Anbar, Asharq Al-Awsat—Tribes in Iraq’s western-most province of Anbar have announced a new joint coalition to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the region.
ISIS is in control of approximately 85 percent of Anbar, Iraq’s largest province, with Sunni tribes seeking to form a unified command structure to fight the jihadist group amid anger at what many see as a lack of support from Baghdad and the US-led anti-ISIS coalition.
In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Rafi Abdul Karim Al-Fahdawi, head of the Albufahd tribe, announced: “Anbar’s tribes have announced a general call to a joint tribal alliance that we are calling Hilf Al-Fudul [League of the Virtuous] in honor of the alliance that was made between various Arab tribes during the era of Prophet Muhammad.”
Hilf Al-Fudul was a 7th-century alliance between various tribes in the Arabian Peninsula to establish fair commercial dealing. The Prophet Muhammad played a significant role in establishing the alliance, which plays an important role in Islamic ethics.
Fahdawi confirmed that Anbar’s various tribal chiefs had elected him to be head of the new Hilf Al-Fudul alliance, pledging that he will do everything in his power to lead the tribal force to victory against ISIS.
“This alliance aims to unite our ranks to fight ISIS which is wreaking havoc in our province. All tribes in Anbar have joined this alliance and united to expel the militants and purge our land [from ISIS],” Fahdawi said.
The Anbar tribal chief, whose pro-government clan has led the fight against ISIS in the province so far, said that more than 3,000 Albufahd fighters had joined the Hilf Al-Fudul.
“Our fighters today are receiving training at Habbaniya military base with other Anbar tribal fighters,” he added.
Anbar officials have complained of a lack of support from Iraq’s central government, with anti-ISIS operations focusing on more central provinces, such as Nineveh and Diyala.
Sabah Karhout, the head of Anbar’s provincial council, told Asharq Al-Awsat that out of a total of 24,000 police officers in Anbar, only 10,000 had remained by their posts, with the majority of the governorate’s territory being outside of Baghdad’s control.
Karhout called on Baghdad to provide additional arms and training to Anbar volunteers in the ongoing fight against ISIS.
Also on Tuesday, Iraq’s cabinet approved two draft laws on creating a National Guard force and ending a ban on ex-members of the Ba’ath Party from public service.
The establishment of a National Guard force, which would fall under the authority of each governorate and comprise local forces, is a key Sunni demand and formed part of a major agreement between various political factions that directly led to the formation of the Haider Al-Abadi government.