All Muslims Are The Same? What About Sheik Ahmad al-Rishawi

One mistake that some people make is lumping all Muslims together. The reality is that they’re not all the same. Sure, some of them are radical, but some of them are moderate. Sure, some of them are our enemies, but some of them are our friends.

Strategically, if you just say the Koran says what it says and therefore a Muslim is a Muslim is a Muslim, you lose the opportunity to gain allies like this

The leader of the tribal confederation that has fought to expel Al Qaeda from most of Iraq’s Anbar province is offering his men to help gin up a rebellion against Osama bin Laden’s organization along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

In an interview, Sheik Ahmad al-Rishawi told The New York Sun that in April he prepared a 47-page study on Afghanistan and its tribes for the deputy chief of mission at the American embassy in Kabul, Christopher Dell. When asked if he would send military advisers to Afghanistan to assist American troops fighting there, he said: “I have no problem with this; if they ask me, I will do it.”

The success of the Anbari tribal rebellion known as the awakening spurred Multinational Forces Iraq to try to emulate the model throughout Iraq, including with the predominately Shiite tribes in the south of the country. Today, the tribe-based militias formed to protect Anbaris from Al Qaeda are forming a political alliance poised to unseat the confessional Sunni parties currently in parliament in the provincial elections scheduled for the fall and the federal ones scheduled for 2009.

…”Al Qaeda is an ideology,” Sheik Ahmad said. “We can defeat them inside Iraq and we can defeat them in any country.” The tribal leader arrived in Washington last week. All of his meetings, including an audience with President Bush, have been closed to the public, in part because the Anbari sheiks, while likely to win future electoral contests, are not themselves part of Iraq’s elected government.

Of his meeting with Mr. Bush, Sheik Ahmad said he was impressed. “He is a brave man. He is also a wise man. He is taking care of the country’s future, the United States’ future. He is also taking care of the Iraqi people, the ordinary people in Iraq. He wants to accomplish success in Iraq.”

When Sheik Ahmad’s brother, Sheik Sattar, met with Mr. Bush in Anbar last fall, he told the president that he dedicated his victory over Al Qaeda to the victims of the attacks of September 11, 2001. On September 13, 2007, Sheik Sattar was assassinated by an improvised explosive device. Since then, his brother Sheik Ahmad has led the awakening movement.

…”We have to rebuild a national Iraqi army, not built on sects, but the same way they built up the Anbar police,” he said. “They must be well-armed, so they will be able to protect the country and all the American interests in the area. We also have to make a friendship treaty based on mutual respect between the two parties, and then the United States will be able to withdraw from Iraq, if they wish, and we will succeed in Iraq the same way America succeeded in Japan and Germany.”

The Anbari sheik offered no comment on the details of the current negotiations on the American troop presence in Iraq between Prime Minister al-Maliki and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, saying he was not involved in the negotiations. But he also said he favored such a status-of-forces agreement. “With a diplomatic understanding we will be able to solve all the problems. We fully trust the Americans. We know the United States never in its history occupied a country. On the contrary, they were occupied and they were able to fight the occupier,” he said, referring to the American rebellion against the British in 1776.

Sheik Ahmad al-Rishawi? Would we agree on every single issue of philosophy and religion? No, but I’m happy to have this guy on our side. Every American should be — and when we have an opportunity to ally with other Ahmad al-Rishawi’s, we should take advantage of it.

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