“This verdict is like a knife in our backs from the Iraqi government,” one of the leaders of the al-Bu Ulwan tribe, Hazem al-Alwani, told NIQASH. “The sons of my tribe have been fighting against the IS group for days, helping the Iraqi security forces to prevent Ramadi from falling.”
The case against al-Alwani has been widely criticised. Amnesty International released a statement declaring that the trial had had many irregularities, with al-Alwani denied access to his lawyer and his family, among other things.
The verdict had been postponed previously and now, Hazem al-Alwani thought, the timing of the announcement of a death penalty was strange. “I don’t believe it is a coincidence,” he said. “It seems that there are certain political actors that do not want the Sunni Muslim tribes in Anbar to play any role in the fight against the IS group.”
Part of the problem involves the many Shiite Muslim militias that have also been taking the fight to the IS group. Last week these Shiite Muslim militias – which are unofficial, armed groups that are a law unto themselves and which have been known to act almost as ruthlessly as the IS group – were accused of a variety of atrocities in the areas they had “liberated” from the IS group. Sunni Muslim politicians in Baghdad say the militias killed innocent people and burned houses and mosques in Sunni Muslim-majority areas.
Many locals in Anbar fear the arrival of Shiite Muslim militias like these and they wonder when the Iraqi government will put some of its plans and promises into action. For instance, the idea of forming and arming a National Guard consisting of locals from the areas in which the Guard works. This was supposed to resolve – at least partially – one of the major issues that saw Sunni Muslim locals welcoming the extremists from the IS group into their towns.