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Anbar peace initiative fails as violence continues - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iraqi police and soldiers parade in the city of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, west of Baghdad on March 29, 2014 after they reportedly seized vehicles from militant fighters. (AFP PHOTO/ Azhar Shallal)

Iraqi police and soldiers parade in the city of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar province, west of Baghdad on March 29, 2014 after they reportedly seized vehicles from militant fighters. (AFP PHOTO/ Azhar Shallal)

Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Local politics in Iraq’s restive Anbar province resulted in the failure of an initiative to find a political solution to end the ongoing conflict in the region, an Anbar provincial council member told Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday.

Anbar Provincial Council member Adhal Al-Fahdawi said: “Internal divisions between the ruling bloc and the opposition bloc on the Anbar provincial council have led to the failure of an initiative that was put forward last week by former Anbar Governor Mohamed Qasim Al-Fahdawi to find a political–tribal solution to the Anbar crisis.”

“The initiative aimed to foster meaningful dialogue with the tribal rebels and the military council and some members of the armed resistance. However, some parties within the provincial council refused to listen to this,” he added.

Iraq’s western province has been embroiled in conflict since late 2013 after insurgents, including a mix of local tribal fighters and jihadists such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), took control of a number of cities in Anbar.

The Iraqi security forces—backed by pro-government Anbar tribesmen—have been seeking to regain control of the region ever since.

The announcement of the failure of the former governor’s initiative comes as at least 17 people were killed on Sunday in a number of attacks across Iraq, including Anbar. Four Iraqi soldiers were reported killed in a rebel attack on an army base in Albu Delma, northwest of the provincial capital, Ramadi. Another three people were reported killed, and five others injured, in a car bomb attack on Ramadi’s Hauz Bridge which connects the north and south of the city.

According to reports, the bridge was damaged to the point that it no longer can be used, further limiting access to the city.

Fahdawi told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The main objective behind this is to isolate some areas of Ramadi from the center.”

The Hauz Bridge was just one of two bridges open to civilians in the city, with two others used exclusively by security forces.

Commenting on the security surrounding Ramadi’s bridges, Fahdawi said: “All of these bridges have been provided with security but there are two problems: first, the infiltration of the security apparatus; and second, the fact that the operations targeting these bridges are suicide attacks. Therefore, even if they are confronted, the attacker can still blow himself up.”

In previous comments to Asharq Al-Awsat on the former governor’s initiative, which has now been rebuffed by the Anbar provincial council, Fahdawi revealed that this would have seen Anbar tribal forces being reintegrated into the political process, isolating Al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters from their local base of support.

He said: “The bloc that is leading the current Anbar provincial council refused, on more than one occasion, to attend council meetings to discuss this initiative. This is because they do not want him [former Governor Mohamed Qasim Al-Fahdawi] to record any victory. Therefore, narrow personal and partisan interests foiled an initiative that could have ended the bloodshed in Anbar and disarmed all the justifications and pretexts put forward by those who are supporting the extremists.”