Iraqi security forces launched last week a major training campaign for mukhtars in various areas of Anbar province.
The campaign aims to reinforce the security effort in the province and strengthen relations between government forces and citizens in order to enhance stability and combat terrorism, officials said.
The mukhtar is considered a link between the local government and citizens. For decades, the neighborhood mukhtar had the task of providing documents showing the place of residence and good conduct of the citizens in the area for which he was responsible. Citizens needed these documents to complete tasks with government departments, such as marriage, real estate, and sales contracts.
Army and police commands have begun a training and development project to carry out the campaign, Brig. Gen. Hamoud al-Dulaimi of Anbar police command told Mawtani.
The project, which lasts two months, will be implemented in stages, he said. The most important stage involves determining the number of mukhtars to train across the districts and sub-districts of Anbar and selecting them based on guidelines and recommendations by the tribes and residents, al-Dulaimi said.
"Mass rallies, seminars and conferences will be held for the residents of Anbar to define the role of the mukhtars, their duties and rights, and how they can help in following up on suspicious movements in cases where there are gunmen disguised as a family in a rented house or if there are strangers living in a residential quarter," he said.
Citizens and district mukhtars will be trained to inform the authorities on such suspicious movements, al-Dulaimi said.
The project has been launched with extensive support from the local Anbar government, Lt. Col. Saeed al-Muhammadi of Anbar operations command told Mawtani.
This support is "the first of its kind, with high importance in enhancing the security effort, stability and the fight against terror and crime of all types", he said.
Al-Muhammadi said the project also includes improving the expertise of mukhtars in areas and residential neighbourhoods across Anbar and providing them with everything required to ensure the surveillance of suspicious activity.
"Specialised committees from the army and police commands, in collaboration with professors and experts in law, have started a series of lectures and seminars at schools, colleges and tribal gatherings to discuss the importance of having everyone cooperate with the Iraqi forces, the mukhtars and local authorities to fight the epidemic of terrorism," he said.
"All forces have been instructed to ensure the presence of the mukhtar of a district or a neighbourhood in any part of Anbar during search raids or official arrests against those wanted by the law, or suspects," al-Muhammadi said.
Ramadi native Mukhtar Fadhil Jabara, 42, who is taking part in the campaign, said the initiative is "important".
"Implementing such a project at this high level of attention and precision will ensure security and stability for the mukhtars of Anbar and the residents and expand the areas of cooperation between security personnel, the mukhtars and citizens to eliminate terror and its sick ideology," he said.
"We were trained in modern methods of uncovering forged identifications and documents and ways to follow up on neighbourhood residents in line with security guidelines and instructions, such as entering each family into a register carrying the name of the family, the number of its members, and data of interest to the individual and to government bodies in carrying out the population census, for instance," Jabara said.
Mukhtar Yahya Kareem, 40, who is from Fallujah, said that although he had received training from his father, a former mukhtar, the new campaign gave him the chance to get familiar with new modern methods to carry out his duties as mukhtar of the Mualemeen neighbourhood in the city.
"What is being given to us in this project is important and considerable because it keeps pace with the age of development," he said.