The First Shoe to Drop in an Iraqi Civil War
As Anbar Counts Votes, Sheiks Voice Defiance Tribal Leaders Threaten Reprisals If They Lose By Sudarsan Raghavan Washington Post Foreign Service Thursday, February 5, 2009; A10 RAMADI, Iraq, Feb. 4 -- In a palatial house replete with guns, flags and other manifestations of tribal power, America's key ally in once-volatile Anbar province explained what he would do if the counting of votes in Saturday's election failed to show his party as the victor. "We will form the government of Anbar anyway," vowed Ahmed Abu Risha, his voice dipping to a quiet growl. The tribesmen seated in his visiting room, where photos of U.S. generals and Sunni monarchs adorn the walls, nodded in approval. "An honest dictatorship is better than a democracy won through fraud," Abu Risha said.
Here, in the cradle of the Sunni insurgency, tribal leaders nurtured and empowered by the United States appear ready to take control the old-fashioned way -- with guns and money -- if their political ambitions are frustrated.