President Barack Obama is expected to tout the end of American military involvement in Iraq during his Thursday night speech at the Democratic National Convention, but a prominent tribal leader who helped end the Iraq War is now asking Obama, “Why did you leave Iraq to Iran?”
Eli Lake of The Daily Beast reports that Ahmad Abu-Risha, a member of the coalition of Sunni Arab tribal leaders opposed to al-Qaida that helped turn the tide in Iraq, is displeased that the U.S. has broken off communications after pulling out troops in December 2011.
During the troop surge of 2007, the group had several meetings with General David Patraeus, President George W. Bush and military officials to strategize against al-Qaida and help set the foundation for a new government.
Communication has since fizzled. Although then-Senator Obama met with the group for 90 minutes in 2008 and committed to continuing cooperation, Abu-Risha says he hasn’t met with any American officials since U.S. troops left Iraq.
Abu-Risha described Obama’s words as “political propaganda” and remarked, “What he said, we don’t see happening.”
James Jeffrey, the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, suggested that improved security conditions may be the reason that contact broke off, but Abu-Risha remains unconvinced.
Abu-Risha said that his message to Obama is: “Why did you give up the many sacrifices that Americans made? You can still have a partnership with us. If you are going to be president for the next four years, bring Iraq back into a strategic partnership with the United States and remember the people who fought against al Qaeda with you.”