Once again..the specter of the "ominous year" looms over al-Anbar
Shafaq News / It has been a while since the "relative" security stability prevailed in the cities of al-Anbar, particularly the western ones, after the governorate was liberated from ISIS grip.
However, political differences and obstacles to the formation of the federal government have increased security tensions in al-Anbar, as it prompted militants to exploit sensitive areas to carry out terrorist operations.
"How alike are today and yesterday?" seems to be a frequent thought on the minds of the locals, who are still trying to dust off military operations that followed the invasion of ISIS to their cities and its later expansion to other Iraqi cities in 2014.
The gravity of the situation has found echoes in the corridors of the International community. In a session of the United Nation's Security Council on the recent events in northeastern Syria, huge concerns were voiced about ISIS resurgence in Iraq and Syria.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism Vladimir Voronkov also described the Iraqi-Syrian border as “porous”, stressing that ISIS can exploit this gap to rearrange its ranks, where it maintains about 10,000 of its fighters commuting between Iraq and Syria.
For their part, local officials in al-Anbar said that the recent terrorist attacks in the governorate, as well as the deployment of the "heavily armed" Hezbollah brigades a few days ago near al-Anbar’s eastern entrance, could serve as a "threatening message" to Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammad al-Halboosi and other representatives of the governorate in parliament.
"It is widely known across the country that terrorist groups are exploiting every political crisis and looking for fragile locations to carry out their operations," said Jassim al-Halboosi, deputy governor of al-Anbar for administrative affairs.
"Security forces in al-Anbar are deployed throughout the cities, districts, and sub-districts, and are in control of the security situation with high coordination among them," al-Halboosi told Shafaq News agency.
About the recent deployment of the Hezbollah Brigades, near the eastern entrance to al-Anbar, he stated, "it carried a threatening message to the governorate and its politicians. It will also have a significant and serious impact on Sunni and even Shiite political parties, as we are all in the same boat... It is not in anyone's interest to put al-Anbar at risk."
"The struggle for power and everyone's attempt to hold government positions have been accompanied by threatening messages and terrorist operations in various governorates, all because of political tensions. So, we hope that al-Anbar's politicians will be wiser in dealing with such crises," he added.
On the bomb attack in Rawa district in western al-Anbar, the district’s administrator, Hussein al-Akidi, said, "The security forces in charge have fulfilled their duty to the fullest and surveillance cameras are spread everywhere in the district. This incident is the first of its kind since the liberation."
"The incident took place in Rawa Island, which is separated from the rest of the governorate by a security berm because of ISIS presence inside. The island is characterized by its large area, rough topography, and proximity to the Syrian, Nineveh, and Saladin. The security units cannot cover the entire area," al-Akidi told Shafaq News agency.
He also noted, "Security forces used to carry out sorties earlier according to intelligence information on terrorist movements, but it lacks sufficient land forces to control the ground."
Al-Akidi said that the Joint Operations Command granted the necessary approvals to hunters from the Gulf states, and to provide them with protection, who in turn had an explosive device incident that killed three soldiers, and one from Rawa Hospital, who accompanied the hunters.
He also predicted that many of ISIS operatives who fled the Geweran prison in Syria have infiltrated into the Iraqi territory.
Political stability = security restoration
"Any political dispute affects the Iraqi scene and this is inherited from previous years, as political disagreement strains the Iraqi street and the security situation," said Ziad al-A’rar, a political researcher.
Speaking to Shafaq News agency, Al-A’rar stressed the need to "dissociate politics from security. Overlapping them creates chaos and causes harm to the public. Security forces shall be able to take the necessary measures without political interference."