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Anbar Salvation Council (Template:Lang-ar majlis inqadh al-Anbār) is a collection of tribal militias in the Al Anbar province of Iraq, formed by former Baathists and nationalists to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq and other associated terrorist groups. In Arabic the council is known as Sahawa Al Anbar, abbreviated SAA when referred to by the US Army. The council has become a model for awakening movements across Iraq, though the Iraqi Defense Ministry has said that it plans to disband the Awakening groups due to concerns about their origins and future intent.
In August, 2006, elements of Al-Quaida in Iraq killed a sheikh and hid the body for 3 days so that his family could not bury it in accordance with Muslim custom. This is commonly considered the last straw and the spark that created the Al Anbar Salvation Council. Sheikh Sattar approached the U.S. Army brigade commander at Camp Ramadi and explained that they wanted to align their forces with the U.S. Soldiers. Despite reservations by Marine Corps commanders in Al Anbar province ("a deal with the devil," as it was referred), U.S. Army Colonel Sean MacFarland began an extensive dialogue with the sheikhs and supported the efforts of the SAA. Over the next several months, members of the tribes of SAA joined the Iraqi Police force by the hundreds. In October, dissatisfied with the pace of the Iraqi Police, three Emergency Response Unit battalions were created, and were accepted by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior as legitimate security forces in December. These forces later were attacked by the first chlorine gas suicide vehicle-born improvised explosive device (SVBIED) in late January, 2007, killing over 17 of their forces and demonstrating the threat Al Qaeda in Iraq considered these local security forces.
Fighting against the Americans in the earlier phases of the war, elements of this group have since allied themselves with the U.S. to rid their country of foreign extremist composing mainly of al-Qaeda in Iraq. It has been reported that they have received cars, guns, and ammunition by the Iraqi and U.S. forces to counter the radical Islamists in Al-Anbar province. In recent months elderly sheiks and tribal leaders have turned away from the Islamic State of Iraq, a radical Sunni extremist terrorist organization who specializes in car bombs and suicide attacks. On May 1, 2007 the Anbar Salvation Council announced that it had killed Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the war minister of the Islamic State of Iraq and the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. However, the U.S. military has refuted this claim and the status of al-Masri is still uncertain. While it is unknown if the Al Anbar Salvation council killed Abu Ayyub Al Masri, during the first few months of the council's existence, it is said that they killed more high level insurgents than US forces in the area.
Sheik Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi was a Sunni leader in the Al-Anbar province leading a growing movement of Sunni tribesmen who have turned against al-Qaida-linked insurgents. Al-Rishawi, whose father and three brothers were killed by al-Qaida assassins, said insurgents were "killing innocent people, anyone suspected of opposing them. They brought us nothing but destruction and we finally said, enough is enough."
Al-Rishawi founded the Anbar Salvation Council in September 2006 with dozens of Sunni tribes. Many of the new newly friendly leaders are believed to have at least tacitly supported the insurgency in the past, though al-Rishawi said he never did. His movement, also known as the Anbar Awakening, now counts 41 tribes or sub-tribes from Anbar, though al-Rishawi acknowledges that some groups in the province have yet to join. It's unclear how many that is, or much support the movement really has. On September 13, 2007, al-Rishawi was killed along with two of his bodyguards by a roadside bomb near his home in Ramadi, Anbar, Iraq.
Membership and organization
- Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi - former leader of the Anbar Salvation Council
- Fasal al Gaood - former governor of al Anbar province
- Awakening movements in Iraq
- Iraq War troop surge of 2007
- 2005 in Iraq
- 2006 in Iraq
- 2007 in Iraq
- Al Qaeda in Iraq
- Civil war in Iraq
- Iraq pledges to disband Sunni volunteer militias
- Turning Iraq's Tribes Against Al-Qaeda TIME, December 26, 2006
- U.S. arming some Sunni groups to fight Al Qaeda International Herald Tribune, June 11, 2007
- Sunni Sheiks Join Fight Vs. Insurgency Washtington Post, March 25, 2007
- Meet Iraq's Most Important Man The New York Sun, April 3, 2007
- Iraqi insurgents kill key US ally BBC, September 13, 2007
- Sunni Sheik Who Backed U.S. in Iraq Is Killed New York Times, September 14, 2007