Saturday, March 03, 2007

Perspective: Iraqi tribal chief opposes the jihadists

BAGHDAD: The sheik stared at the cake that the hotel workers had brought up to his room as a gift. Across the red gelatinlike surface was written, "God protect you from the enemies and keep you for the Iraqi people."

God is indeed his guardian, said the sheik, Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi. So were the three burly Iraqi men standing outside the door of his suite here in the Mansour Hotel, and the five others by the elevators at the end of the hall. They had walkie-talkies, Kalashnikov rifles and camouflage vests stuffed with ammunition clips.

The sheik needs as much protection as loyalty and prayers can bring, not to mention money. He is the public face of the Sunni Arab tribes in lawless Anbar Province who have turned against the Sunni jihadists of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, many of whom belong to other, sometimes more militant Iraqi tribes.

Read the rest at the International Herald Tribune