As a result of security improvements in Al-Anbar province over the past few months, security forces there are preparing to take over responsibilities in March.
The Iraqi defense ministry’s media director, General Mohammed Al-Askari, said that “most Iraqi provinces will take over their own security this year.” He added that “Al-Anbar province will be in the lead.”
In an interview with Mawtani, General Mohammed Al-Askari added that “Al-Anbar’s taking over its own security portfolio is a result of what has transpired in its cities, in terms of ending violence through military operations conducted by Iraqi forces and Al-Anbar Awakening Volunteers against Al-Qaeda militants.”
“It will precede the Baghdad area in taking over its security portfolio early in 2008, as a first step toward handing over security in the rest of the province,” he added.
Through military operations carried out against Al-Qaeda, Iraqi security forces in Al-Anbar were able to achieve relative stability in 90 percent of the province.
Currently, around 5,100 Iraqi soldiers, 8,100 police, and 1,700 other security personnel are spread out in the city of Ramadi.
The success of the Al-Anbar awakening volunteers and the army and police forces in controlling the security situation has anchored stability throughout the province, allowing it to move on to a new stage in rebuilding and improving its economic conditions.
An advisor to the minister of state for national security, Doctor Fadel Shwyli, indicated to Mawtani that “the army and police have the strength and the preparation to manage the operations.” He praised the role that local citizens in Al-Anbar have played in informing about Al-Qaeda havens.
Fadel commended the awakening volunteers in Iraq, indicating that the state wishes to take care of them by incorporating them into Iraqi forces. He also praised their experience in fighting Al-Qaeda and armed organizations.
In past years, Al-Anbar province had witnessed violent attacks and fighting, to the point that the city and its districts were considered impregnable Al-Qaeda fortresses. Last year, tribal awakening volunteers in the province worked to throw Al-Qaeda out of the province and to weaken the organization.