They’re hanging out the bunting at the Daily Kos and HuffPo following the assassination of Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, one of leaders of the Anbar Awakening alliance of tribal leaders against Al Qaeda - and the fact that the sheikh was photographed shaking hands with President Bush when the President visited Iraq last week is only adding to their glee.
With the exception of this piece, the posters hadn’t piled on when I checked. But the comments boards, while including pertinent questions about why the sheikh wasn’t better protected, and observtions on the dangers of forging alliances with self-interested and arguably unsavoury characters, are filled with sentiments such as “you lie down with dogs, you get fleas” and “it's a 'small price to pay' for a photo op with our great president!” Another commenter refers to the Anbar Awakening as the “Anbar sellout”, apparently affronted that Abu Risha should have turned his back on Al Qaeda because they were murdering his people.
A good indicator of just how out of touch with reality many on the left are is that lots of commenters were predicting President Bush wouldn’t mention Abu Risha’s death in his speech last night, because it didn’t fit with the picture of progress being painted by General Petraeus and the White House. On the contrary, Bush paid tribute to the sheikh, and pledged continued US support for the tribes.
Although they may be careful not to show it, there's little doubt that some ‘responsible’ figures at Kos and HuffPo, and at organisations such as MoveOn.org and Code Pink, will also be reveling in Abu Risha’s death. And even at less vehemently leftist outfits such as the New York Times, the BBC and the UK’s Independent newspaper, there will be some who will take quiet satisfaction from the news, viewing it as a regrettable but necessary development in the context of their desire to see America fail in Iraq.
The alliances between Sunni tribes and the US is far from an ideal solution to the problems in Iraq- the Washington Post reported in June that cracks were emerging in the alliance, although the story is filled with conflicting claims, and progress has continued unabated in Anbar in the three months since. But the strategy is working, is saving the lives of US troops, and is paving the way for ground-up economic and political progress in the absence of meaningful action by the Malaki government.
And there’s no reason to believe this success won’t continue following Abu Risha’s death. The thrust of the Post's story wasn’t that the tribes wanted to split from the Americans, but that rivals to Abu Risha wanted to make their own alliance, and Sunni leaders have already come forward to pledge that the fight against al-Qaeda will go on.
We'll never know exactly what Abu Risha's motives were for siding with the Americans, but without Al Qaeda on his side it's unlikely that he entertained serious notions about overthrowing the goverment in Baghada and restoring Sunni primacy. More likely, having seen that the US wasn't about to abandon Iraq, he wanted to bring stability to his fiefdom, and claim a stake in shaping the country's future; his interests coincided with ours, and there are plenty more influential Sunnis who see things the same way.
And if Al Qaeda had any slim hopes of re-establishing widespread influence over Iraq's Sunni population, those have surely vanished with the killing of Abu Risha. Rather than serving as a warning to the Sunnis as to what happens to those who cross them, the foreign jihadis and their local conscripts have reminded their erstwhile allies exactly why Al Qaeda needs to be thrown out of Iraq.
The Nutroots, and those who dance to their tune, are celebrating prematurely.
UPDATE: My God! A greenwash! Thanks Charles, and welcome, footballers! I've only been at this blogging lark for a few weeks, and I've never had a hit-rate like this, so while you're here I'd love it if you can stick around and check out some of what I've been doing. I posted this piece for 9/11, which I guess has become my mission statement, and I've started a nice little debate on war movies then and now. Have a browse through the archives. This post got a lot of attention a while back, and I've even been known to do funny. And thanks to Oxford Medievalist for his encouragement and patient answering of dumb questions - go check out his piece on Bush's Speech and the Democrat Surrender Myth.
Do call again!
UPDATE: Thanks to Jawa Report for linking too. Gateway Pundit reports on Abu Risha's funeral and Sunnis vowing to settle the score.