Iraq digest | Slain sheik's brother vows revenge
Thousands of people paid their respects Friday to Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, the slain sheik credited with forging ties between Sunni tribesmen...
BAGHDAD — Thousands of people paid their respects Friday to Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, the slain sheik credited with forging ties between Sunni tribesmen and the U.S. military, and American leaders mulled the prospects of the brother expected to succeed him.
A statement posted on the Web site of the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group believed to have been formed by al-Qaida in Iraq, on Friday claimed responsibility for the killing of Abu Risha, who had persuaded Sunni tribes that once backed the insurgents to accept U.S. cooperation and arms to fight them. The statement described Abu Risha as President Bush's "dog."
A tribal coalition led by Abu Risha had fought al-Qaida in Iraq for the past year in Anbar province, leading to a dramatic drop in violence, and Abu Risha met with Bush this month during a surprise visit to Iraq.
His killing Thursday in a bombing outside his home was a setback to U.S.-led efforts in Anbar, which Bush has used as a measure of success in the military buildup that began earlier in 2007.
Abu Risha's older brother, Ahmed, will reportedly take over leadership of the region's tribal coalition, known as the Anbar Awakening (or Salvation) Council. He lashed out against the insurgents for the killing.
"We are going to continue our fight and avenge his death," Ahmed said.
Col. Sean MacFarland, who was commander of the 1st Armored Division's 1st Brigade in the province in 2006, said that while Abu Risha wore traditional clothing and was a charismatic risk-taker, the older, college-educated Ahmed wears Western-style suits, is a businessman and dealmaker.
Abu Risha's critics said he took too much credit for turning back insurgents in Anbar and his ambition alienated other tribal leaders. Ahmed, who holds a degree in political science, "will have more of a consensus type of approach where Rishawi [Abu Risha] was more, 'My way or the highway,' " MacFarland said.
Cheney lauds success in Iraq
TAMPA, Fla. — Despite a new White House report reflecting little progress on the many benchmarks Congress has set for Iraq, Vice President Dick Cheney said Friday in Tampa that U.S. and coalition forces "are getting things right in Iraq."
"Tough work lies ahead," Cheney said during speeches in Tampa and in Grand Rapids, Mich., earlier in the day. "But the evidence from the theater of war 6,000 miles away is beyond question: The troop surge has achieved solid results, and in a relatively short period of time. ... The United States and our coalition are getting things right in Iraq."
A new White House report demanded by Congress judges that the Iraqis have made "satisfactory" progress on nine of the 18 benchmarks, one more than the White House had graded as satisfactory in its last report in July.
The president, insisting his strategy of building up forces in Iraq to provide a more secure environment for political progress is working, said he plans to withdraw five Army brigades and three Marine units — about 21,000 combat troops — from Iraq by mid-July.
However, Defense Secretary Robert Gates raised the possibility Friday of cutting U.S. troop levels in Iraq to 100,000 by the end of next year, the first time a member of Bush's war Cabinet has publicly suggested such deep reductions, The Associated Press reported.
Stressing at a Washington news conference that he was expressing a hope, not an administration plan, Gates said it is possible conditions in Iraq will improve enough to merit much deeper troop cuts than scheduled. But he added that "there is no script" in war.
4 U.S. soldiers killed in Diyala
The U.S. military reported that four U.S. soldiers were killed in Diyala province by an explosion near their vehicle. No names were released, pending notification of their families, and no further details were available.
As of Friday, at least 3,779 members of the U.S. military have died in the Iraq war, according to an Associated Press count.
Also Friday, seven police reportedly were killed in the northern city of Beiji when a truck bomb blew up at a police checkpoint.
Meanwhile, the republic of Georgia announced Friday that it would withdraw all but 300 of its 2,000 troops from Iraq by next summer.
Seattle Times news services
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.
I've been fortunate to have traveled the world: Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia. Exotic islands, too. Wherever I go, I'm struck by one undeniable trut...
Post a comment