I Anbar-provinsen i Irak har sunni-sheikher gått til krig mot Al Qaida. De er lei terroren og volden.
Det er sheikh Abdul Sattar al-Rishawi som står i spissen for opprøret mot jihadistene.
The 36-year-old sheik is leading a growing movement of Sunni tribesmen who have turned against al-Qaida-linked insurgents in Anbar province. The dramatic shift in alliances may have done more in a few months to ease daily street battles and undercut the insurgency here than American forces have achieved in years with arms.
Al Qaida har terrorisert sunniene. Alle som kan tenkes å motarbeide dem blir drept. På et eller annet punkt skjer det et stemningsomslag. Det ser ut til å ha skjedd i Anbar.
Men veien dit har vært blodig. I november 2005 holdt amerikanerne et møte med stammeledere om mulig samarbeid. I januar 2006 tok Al Qaida blodig hevn. Det var først da de nektet å utlevere liket av en fremstående sheikh at nok var nok.
In November 2005, American commanders held a breakthrough meeting with top Sunni chiefs in Ramadi, hoping to lure them away from the insurgents’ fold. The sheiks responded positively, promising cooperation and men for a police force that was then virtually nonexistent.
But in January 2006 a suicide bomber attacked a police recruiting drive, killing 70 people. Insurgents killed at least four sheiks for cooperating with the Americans, and many others fled.
The killings left the effort in limbo, until a turning point; insurgents killed a prominent sheik last year and refused to let family members bury the body for four days, enraging Sunni tribesmen, said U.S. Lt. Col. Miciotto Johnson, who heads the 1st Battalion, 77th Armored Regiment and visits al-Rishawi frequently in western Ramadi.
Al-Rishawi, whose father and three brothers were killed by al-Qaida assassins, said insurgents were «killing innocent people, anyone suspected of opposing them. They brought us nothing but destruction and we finally said, enough is enough.»
Al-Rishawi founded the Anbar Salvation Council in September with dozens of Sunni tribes. Many of the new newly friendly leaders are believed to have at least tacitly supported the insurgency in the past, though al-Rishawi said he never did.