Thursday, September 13, 2007

Does lightning strike twice?

The Sunni tribal leader who is credited by most reliable news sources outside the US as being the true reason behind the decrease in violence in the Anbar region of Iraq, has been killed in an explosion. Sheik Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha was the leader of the Anbar Salvation Council and was able to pull together what was once a loose group of more than 30 Sunni tribes and began making a change in the violence in that region. Two things are striking about this situation and are reason to pay close attention.

For starters there had been inner political turmoil brewing in the group and in June a breakaway group of 12 tribal leaders occurred, with those 12 vowing to destroy the Anbar Salvation Council and Abu Risha. Second, history has shown to us that assassinations like this can precede major events.

On September 9, 2001 Ahmad Shah Massoud, the former Defense Minister of Afghanistan before the rise of the Taliban, was assassinated by an explosion. The theory floated to explain his assassination has been that his death would assist the Taliban in maintaining their control over Afghanistan following what would be the expected US response after the 911 attacks.

Could the Abu Risha assassination be a precursor to another major event which would lead to an increased presence in Iraq or the Middle Eastern region? Abu Risha had formed a strong Sunni coalition that had chased AQI from the Anbar region, his creation of the Anbar Salvation Council was pure grass roots and shocked the US when it occurred, and as a Sunni leader he was in the minority in Iraq where Shiite is the predominant sect. It should also be noted that the religious majority of Iran are also Shiite and if there is war with Iran, Shiite support would almost certainly flow across the border into Iran from Iraq.

With the Conspiracy Theory boards and websites abuzz with tomorrow’s Air Force stand down and concern that something is afoot all the way out to the 18th of September, it is somewhat odd that this assassination occurs in a manner so similar to what occurred two days before the 911 attacks.

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