London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Hamid al-Hayis, chairman of the Al-Anbar Salvation Council and one of the most prominent leaders of the Al-Anbar Awakening Council, has revealed that his group intends on participating in the upcoming provincial and parliamentary elections after forming a political entity under the name of “The Al-Anbar Salvation Council”.
Asharq Al-Awsat has obtained document issued in June by the Independent Higher Electoral Commission addressed to the “Al-Anbar Salvation Council” saying: “It has been decided to accept you as a political entity under Registration No. 638 that is entitled to participate in the upcoming provincial councils elections as soon as you submit the lists of candidates that are qualified according to the law”.
Al-Hayis told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Al-Qaeda is finished in Al-Anbar and has weakened throughout Iraq. It has become an abnormal and rejected issue. Anyone that raises arms against the Iraqi people is rejected and will be fought”. He emphasized, “Normal life returned to the villages and towns of Al-Anbar several months ago, especially in Al-Ramadi, the seat of the province. The Iraqi Army forces and the police in Al-Ramadi have taken over the security file. Political, economic, and cultural life has returned and, in fact, become more active”. He pointed out that the “it is the government forces that are supervising the security situation in the province”.
Al-Hayis talked about the success of the experiment of forming awakening councils that started in Al-Anbar. He said: “Our experiment in the Al-Anbar Awakening Council has been emulated in all parts of Iraq and the Iraqi government has begun to recruit our youths in the army and the police force”. He added that about40,000 fighters from the Al-Anbar Awakening Council that volunteered in the Iraqi military and security forces. He referred to “the government’s cooperation with us and its support for our experiment. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had affirmed that the armed forces support us”.
Al-Hayis belittled the import of media reports that have talked about security campaigns against the awakening forces in Iraq. He said: “There is no campaign in the true sense of the word. These reports in the media are exaggerated. Yes, mistakes are made by some leaders of awakening councils here and there in Iraq. These should bear the consequences and should be taken to account for their mistakes in order to correct the course of the awakening councils”.
On the relationship between the “Al-Anbar Salvation Council” and the political blocs that represent the Arab Sunnis in Iraq, Al-Hayis said: “We have no connection with the [Sunni] Association of Muslim Scholars. They represent themselves and do not represent us. The Al-Tawafuq Front (led by Adnanal-Dulaymi) does not represent the Sunni Arabs; we did not elect them”.
On the relationship with the Islamic Party led by Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, Al-Hayis said: “It was the Islamic Party that allowed Al-Qaeda to prosper in Al-Anbar because the members of the Islamic Party administered the province. We shall remove them from the province after their party offices in the province have been shut down”. Al-Hayis stated: “Our battle will be waged during the elections of the provincial councils. After turning into a political entity, the Al-Anbar Salvation Council will run in the upcoming provincial council elections as well as the parliamentary elections”.
Al-Hayis disclosed that they will form an electoral bloc “that will consist of the Al-Anbar Salvation Council, the Al-Anbar Awakening Council, and a bloc of sheikhs and intellectuals in Al-Anbar”. He pointed out that the Awakening Councils – that are led by Ahmad Abu-Rishah with whom we are in accord – is the strongest entity in Iraq. We are also in accord with Ali Hatim, the chairman of the National Front for the Salvation of Iraq. We will form an alliance with anyone except the Islamic Party or any other extremist party”. The leader of the Al-Anbar Salvation Council called for a role in the government, saying “We have national rights and the government should think of us. We have demanded a role in the government in order to activate the law. We are experts in fighting terrorism”.
On the accusations leveled at the awakening councils, Al-Hayis said: “We are not militias and we will not turn into militias. We are with any Iraqi patriot regardless of whether he is a Sunni or a Shia or a non-Muslim or an Arab or a non-Arab. Some accuse us once of being militias and once of being American agents. We are not agents; we are national revolutionaries that have offered many sacrifices for the security and stability of Iraq. It was we who fought and defeated Al-Qaeda. We are in agreement only with Iraqis whether from the government or the military or the security forces. We currently represent a strong nationalist unit contrary to what is being rumored about us that we are fighting among ourselves. We have not and will not raise our arms against any nationalist Iraqi”.
Al-Hayis pointed out, “Some sheikhs of Al-Anbar are living in hotels in Amman. They are receiving support from the United States as representatives of the people of Al-Anbar and they are enjoying commercial contracts. We hereby proclaim that we have nothing to do with these sheikhs that have abandoned their cause and left Al-Anbar under the most difficult circumstances. If they do not return to their city, they will be disowned by the people of Al-Anbar”.