The Sheikh, credited by General Petraeus as the key leader pulling together other Iraqi tribal chiefs and leaders in ANbar and beyond, shook hands with President Bush just ten days ago. But OpEdNews has interviewed one of the few people to actually meet with the sheikh, and the story we are hearing about him, his relationship with the USA, and with the tribal leaders is very different than is widely being reported.
This article will first provide an OpEdNEws interview with filmaker Rick Rowley*, who met with and Interviewed and researched Sheikh Reishi in July 2007 and provide background information on Sheikh Reeshi.
Rick Rowley is a filmmaker and journalist with Big Noise Films, who embedded for a week with the first armoured cavalry, in Taji, and then embedded with numerous Iraqi military groups for six weeks, who met with Sheikh Reesha and filmed in July, 2007. Rowley told me about the sheikh,
"He's a figurehead. He was a story created by the americans ""a face to put on the American strategy in Anbar. He claimed in his interview that he was head of all the tribes in Iraq, which was absolutely ridiculous. Some said he was a highway man and con artist who sold himself to the Americans. Others said he was real.
"He was the face that was put on Petraeus's story. Petraeus story that the iraqi tribes had turned on Al Qaeda and forced them out."-
I asked Rowley, "What was your take when you spoke to Sheikh Reeshi?"-
He claimed to be the leader of all the tribes of Ramadi (Capitol of Anbar) and all the Arab tribes of Iraq""both Shia and Sunni, but he couldn't even be in Ramadi. We had to meet with him in Amman. He wasn't even in Ramadi much of the time. All the sheikhs and people on the ground there protested his claims and downplayed Abu Reesha's significance.
We interviewed a shiekh from dulaimi tribe, which is the largest, most important tribe in Anbar, who said that Abu Reeshi was a fake, a con man who went to the Americans to get contruction contracts and funds for fighters. He said that Abu Reeshi was given $75 million. Apparently, the US Military can't just give money to these leaders, so they call it construction funds.
But that's only a part of the story. Petraeus failed to report that many of these tribesmen have been insurgent killers who have forced the all the Shia out of Anbar, which is why it's safe. Rowley told OpEdNews,
The tribes we met who were working with the Americans were the insurgents and they made a decision to ally themselves temporarily with the americans in preparation for a bigger sectarian civil war with the Shia""that it was better to work with the americans and get resources from them in preparation for the fight with the Shia.
Petraeus didn't reveal that Americans are actually arming groups who are directly preparing themselves for armed sectarian civil war. There are entire Shia component of villages who have been kicked out of Anbar by the same Sunnis who the USA has armed."-
Rowley responded to question on his read on Petraeus report to congress,
Deliberately misleading and outright lies. When he said in his testimony that they are not arming them, they are applauding them from the sidelines, that's an absolute lie. They're not handing them arms, but they are providing them money to buy the arms and then pressuring the Iraqi government to incorporate them in their police.
Trying to put this into context, remembering the way the Bush administration has repeatedly built up stories, lies that later proved to be untrue, starting with Herbert Walker Bush's proven false claims about Saddam, in 1993, brutalizing babies in a hospital, I asked Rowley, So this is another example like when the Bush administration made up the story, in 2002 and early 2003 about travelling weapons labs or the made up Jessica-Lynch-the-hero story? He replied,
Yes. Sheikh Ali Hathem told us, "This is nothing new for us. The americans like to create characters like disney cartoon heroes."-
"What's the bottom line to this killing,"- I asked.
Rowley answered, "It puts the lie to the statement that there's security in the region."-
"Bottom line," finishing my interview with Rowley, I said, "This is a charade, a chimera, this success which Petraeus portrays is actually something that will fall apart when the money stops coming in and could actually explode into far worse conflict, when the troops leave."-
An AFP article reported,
Sheikh Reesha was a prominent figure in the so-called Anbar Awakening Conference of Sunni tribes which formed an alliance with American troops in western Anbar province to claw back their neighbourhoods from Al-Qaeda.
A week ago, he attended a meeting of Iraqi government and US officials in Ramadi at which he urged other provinces to follow Anbar's lead in cooperating with the central government.
The meeting, known as the Anbar Forum, was aimed at giving an economic boost to the western province, where Sunni Arab former insurgents have joined with US forces to fight Al-Qaeda.