Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—The head of the prominent Sunni Dulaim tribe from the country’s western Anbar province has called on the Iraqi government to “make good on its promises” to tribesmen in the province fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), amid a renewed offensive by the extremist group on the provincial capital Ramadi over the last four days.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone from the Jordanian capital Amman, Majid Al-Ali Al-Suleiman said the situation in Ramadi now required further support from the central Baghdad government “since, as is assumed, they are the ones who buy the weapons with which to arm the tribes so they can continue their fight” against the group.
He said that despite representatives from Anbar’s tribes previously meeting with Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, the government had “not made good on its promises” to secure weapons and support to help the tribes fight the extremist group in the province.
“Events have proven that everything we agreed upon [with the government] has not been implemented on the ground in a way that would help the tribes hold out [against ISIS], let alone confront them,” he added.
ISIS, which already controls most of Ramadi, has recently launched a series of coordinated assaults on its central and outlying areas in a bid to expand its grip on the city, parts of which it has controlled in varying degrees since January amid a seesawing fight with the Iraqi army and tribesmen from the province.
ISIS’s later advance across larger parts of Iraq, which saw it take over the country’s second city Mosul and Salah Al-Din province just north of Baghdad, seemed to prompt the government into action, and to seek help from abroad, in order to fight the group.
But there have been accusations that the government—then led by former prime minister Nuri Al-Maliki—deliberately marginalized Sunni-dominated areas such as Anbar, which angered locals—along with the counter-accusations and allusions from Maliki that the locals themselves had aided the extremist group’s advance in the province.
Suleiman insisted the government “was bound by duty to protect Iraqi citizens wherever they are,” insisting Anbar’s tribesmen had been “fighting for the last eight years against terrorism in all its forms, beginning with Al-Qaeda and now ISIS.”
He added that tribe members in the province had “sacrificed for the nation the precious souls [of their sons] and their financial resources.”
It was reported on Saturday that ISIS had killed at least 25 members of the Albufahd, another prominent Sunni tribe in the province, during its latest offensive.
The attacks appeared to be revenge killings for the tribe’s assisting the Iraqi army in the fight against the group.
Last month the group executed hundreds of the Albunimr, another prominent Anbar tribe, in what the son of the head of the tribe told Asharq Al-Awsat was a deliberate, organized “policy of genocide” against the Albunimr.