Niqash: How do you assess the current security situation in Anbar province?
Dr. al-Ani: I do not think the security situation in the province is in danger or unstable. On the contrary, all forces and parties are seeking to maintain secure conditions during the elections.
Niqash: But there have been some recent security violations, including suicide attacks?
Dr. al-Ani: It is not possible to fully eliminate security dangers. Al-Qaeda is still launching suicide attacks, but we are certain that these attacks are indicators of its failure. I can say with confidence that there are no al-Qaeda cells in the province and recent attacks were simply attempts to disrupt the security situation. These attacks will fail and will stop soon.
Niqash: People expect violence to return after the provisional elections as a result of continued conflicts between different political groups.
Dr. al-Ani: I don’t think so. The return of violence is not possible. None of the political parties participating in the elections want violence to return to the province having rid it of al-Qaeda. Violence is not in the interest of any party.
Niqash: What about the existing conflict between the Islamic Party and the tribes?
Dr. al-Ani: I think we have overcome this issue. There were conflicts when tribes were marginalized. Now they have weight and a role to play. Their role is important in managing the province’s political, security and economic affairs and they are represented in the council. Unfortunately, the media has played a destructive role, portraying Anbar as a flash point and exaggerating the news coming out of the province.
Niqash: What is the status of reconstruction and investment projects in the province following the return of stability?
Dr. al-Ani: Construction projects are being implemented. There have been some violations committed by executive authorities due to conflicts between different departments and tribal loyalties or due to personal interests. The province has attempted to address these problems and has solved some of the violations.
Niqash: What is your opinion on the Iraq-US security agreement? Do you believe that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the province will solve the security issue?
Dr. al-Ani: Certainly there is no one who wants occupation to continue. We believe that the U.S. presence is an important component on the political and security level in Iraq. What is needed now is to address the issue in a comprehensive and satisfactory manner in order not to allow this question to further complicate the security problem. We need to guarantee that there are no fears of future foreign interventions and that the agreement serves Iraq’s interests and sovereignty first and foremost.