Independent journalist Michael Totten posted another of his exemplary reports from Iraq a few days ago, on the state of things in Ramadi in particular and Anbar province in general — well worth reading in its entirety to get a more detailed insight into the situation there than most of the news outlets provide.

Sadly, we just today lost Sahawa al Anbar leader Sheikh Sattar, who, as Michael described in his most recent dispatch, has been a key figure in helping to drive al Qaeda fighters out of Anbar and pacify the region:

Nineteen Arab tribes led by sheikhs live in Anbar Province. In June of 2006, nine of those tribal sheikhs cooperated with the Americans, three were neutral, and seven were hostile.

In October of last year the tribal leaders in the province, including some who previously were against the Americans, formed a movement to reject the savagery Al Qaeda had brought to their region. Some of them were supremely unhappy with the American presence since fighting exploded in the province’s second largest city of Fallujah, but Al Qaeda proved to be even more sinister from their point of view. Al Qaeda did not come as advertised. They were militarily incapable of expelling the American Army and Marines. And they were worse oppressors than even Saddam Hussein. The leaders of Anbar Province saw little choice but to openly declare them enemies and do whatever it took to expunge them. They called their new movement Sahawa al Anbar, or the Anbar Awakening.

Sheikh Sattar is its leader. Al Qaeda murdered his father and three of his brothers and he was not going to put up with them any longer. None of the sheikhs were willing to put up with them any longer. By April of 2007, every single tribal leader in all of Anbar was cooperating with the Americans.

The remaining Sahawa al Anbar leadership vows to fight on, as well they should, but this is certainly a tragic loss of a man who was making a positive difference in Anbar.