The controversial Iraqi Sunni politician Ahmed al-Alwani, who is president of the Economic Commission in the Iraqi parliament, ridiculed the notion that if Anbar province gains autonomy, its economy will be weak because the province lacks essential economic resources. He said that large Iraqi provinces can attract a lot of investment.
Alwani proudly claims to be “the godfather of the Anbar [autonomy] project.” He said that “whoever says that Anbar wishes to become an [autonomous] province in order for it to throw itself into the arms of neighboring Sunni Arab states is getting his information from [the wrong sources].”
Alwani is considered to be at the forefront of the Anbar protest movement that started more than two months ago and spread throughout Sunni-dominated areas in Iraq to oppose Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s policies. The protests turned into an open-ended sit-in on the international highway that passes through Anbar and connects Iraq to both Syria and Jordan.
Alwani gained fame when he was reported to have accused Iraqi Shiites of being subservient to Iran and working to serve its interests in Iraq, but he has denied saying that.
Anbar is majority Sunni and the largest of Iraq’s provinces, covering a third of the country. It borders Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia and has one of the largest untapped gas fields in Iraq, the Okaz field.
Alwani said that “establishing a province does not mean secession. According to the constitution, [Anbar] should receive a portion of the state budget to manage its affairs, as happens with the Kurdistan region.” He added that “the Iraqi constitution provides for the formation of [autonomous] regions, but it also provides for the existence of federal ministries, such as finance, defense and foreign affairs. This is to ensure the success of the [autonomous] regions project.”