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Iraqi speaker launches initiative to solve Anbar crisis - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Iraqi security forces take part in an intensive security deployment on the outskirts Anbar. (REUTERS/Mushtaq Muhammed)

Iraqi security forces take part in an intensive security deployment on the outskirts Anbar. (REUTERS/Mushtaq Muhammed)

Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iraqi parliamentary speaker and leader of the Sunni Mutahidoun Coalition, Osama Al-Nujaifi, has launched an initiative to resolve the crisis in Anbar Province.

Nujaifi’s is the latest in a number of initiatives proposed by various parties to reach an end to the crisis. Earlier initiatives included one by the leader of Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), Ammar Al-Hakim, which was ignored by Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki. The Anbar Provincial Council also launched an initiative two days ago, but observers say the government views the provincial authorities as part of the problem.

A statement issued by Mutahidoun said: “Nujaifi held a crisis meeting of the crisis cell dealing with the Anbar issue, where the discussion revolved around the importance of delivering aid to residents who were displaced because of the security situation.”

The statement added that Nujaifi explained the efforts he made in meetings with various parties to discuss an end to military operations and the use of peaceful solutions. The meeting also called for an end to the bombardment of cities by the security forces because it “did not differentiate between innocent residents and terrorists.”

The official spokesman for Mutahidoun, Zafir Al-Ani, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We will present Nujaifi’s initiative to the political parties in the next two days because we want a realistic solution to the crisis, and because prolonging it is no longer in anybody’s interest, and nobody should be allowed to exploit the crisis in any way for political purposes.”

Ani said Maliki confused the issue by using the term terrorism broadly and exploiting it to deny protesters their legitimate rights. He added that it was important for security forces to cooperate with the tribes to reach a solution to the crisis.

Meanwhile, Iraqiya List MP, Talal Al-Zawba’i, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the crisis has gone beyond Nujaifi’s ability to find a solution, while Maliki is trying to exploit it as much as possible,” adding that both were incapable of finding a clear solution through reaching an understanding with tribal fighters, “who have control of the territory.”

The current crisis in Iraq’s western Anbar province erupted at the end of December, when insurgents seized control of the province’s two principal cities, Fallujah and Ramadi, expelling police and occupying and burning government facilities.

Some of the insurgents are reportedly members of radical jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda, and have been blamed for a recent wave of deadly bombings across Iraq that made 2013 the deadliest year for the country’s population since 2006.

The Iraqi army has cordoned off the two cities, and is attempting to recapture them with the assistance of fighters from local tribes who have thrown their lot in with the government.

The uprising followed more than a year of protests by the province’s Sunni population at what they said was sectarian bias on the part of the central government in Baghdad, led by Shi’ite Prime Minister Al-Maliki.