Al Anbar Governorate

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Al Anbar
 • Coordinates
 • ~° N ~° E
Population (2006)
 • Density
1,200,000 <ref></ref>
 • /km²
~ km²
Time zone IST (UTC+3)
Main language(s) Arabic

Al Anbar (Arabic: محافظة الأنبارMuḥāfaẓät al-’Anbār) is an overwhelmingly Sunni Arab province of Iraq. Its capital is Ar Ramadi. Anbar is the largest province in Iraq, sharing a border with Syria, Jordan (undefined), and Saudi Arabia. The name of the province is Persian (انبار ’Anbār) and means "emporium", as this region was the primary entrepot on the western borders of Persian Sassanian Empire. The famous Sunni Muslim theologian, Abu Hanifa al-Anbari, and the founder of the largest Sunni school of thought, Hanafism, was associated with this region.

Before 1976 the province was known as Ramadi and before 1962 as Dulaim. [1]

The city of Fallujah is also in Anbar. The Iraqi insurgency was widely considered to be stronger in this province than in any other in Iraq, and hostility toward occupation forces had been fierce. However, in late 2005, after a struggle to gain control of the region, a series of operations by US forces were relatively successful in driving insurgents from Anbar. Additionally, in early 2006, several tribes and militias — some including insurgent groups — began an effort to root out the remaining foreign militants. As a result, Anbar was thought to be mostly pacified in the early weeks of 2006. However subsequent insurgent raids against coalition forces in the area, the increase of sectarian violence (that pushed many of the Sunni tribes back into alliances with militants) and the continued insurgent control of several cities in Anbar showed that fighting in the region is far from over. Reports in March 2006 suggested that the Anbar capital Ramadi had largely fallen under insurgent control along with most of the region, as a result the US sent an additional 3,500 Marines to reestablish control of the region. [2]

Following the rise of sectarian violence in Baghdad many soldiers were transferred back to the Iraqi capital, further strengthening the insurgency’s hold on Anbar. [3] The Iraq war website reported 123 US troops killed in action in Anbar province alone between the start of August 2006 and the end of November 2006. Many of these died in and around Fallujah, a town which was supposedly 'pacified' in late 2004 and early 2005.

Anbar, with Ramadi and Fallujah in particular, is known for its inhabitants' strong tribal and religious traditions. Allegedly, former President Saddam Hussein was constantly wary of the volatile nature of the area. Most of the inhabitants of the province are Sunni Muslims from the Dulaim tribe.

The Washington Post reported on September 11, 2006 that, according to a recent U. S. Marine Corps secret report, "the prospects for securing that country's western Anbar province are dim and. . . there is almost nothing the U.S. military can do to improve the political and social situation there. reporting that there are no functioning Iraqi government institutions in Anbar, leaving a vacuum that has been filled by the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has become the province's most significant political force,. . . Another person familiar with the report said it describes Anbar as beyond repair; a third said it concludes that the United States has lost in Anbar."[4] [5]

The LA Times reported on October 5, 2006 that tribal leaders in Anbar province are turning against the Al Qaeda insurgency. [6] Repeated Al Qaeda attacks against local civilians and tribal leaders have led the Anbar tribes to align themselves with the central Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. According to the report, "U.S. officials say the decision of some tribal leaders to begin going after insurgents reflects growing public anger over attacks that have killed or injured more than 8,000 Iraqis, according to local government figures." However as of late October, tribal resistance had yet to materialise and Islamist forces affiliated with the Shura Council (an umbrella organisation claiming to respresent a number of insurgent factions) staged military parades in cities throughout Anbar province including Ramadi and Haqlaniyah. [7]

In November another U.S. military report was filed, confirming the earlier warning that Anbar was falling under insurgent control. The report stated that "the social and political situation has deteriorated to a point that U.S. and Iraqi troops are no longer capable of militarily defeating the insurgency in al-Anbar," and that "nearly all government institutions from the village to provincial levels have disintegrated or have been thoroughly corrupted and infiltrated by Al Qaeda in Iraq, or a smattering of other insurgent groups." leaving the insurgency and al-Qaeda in Iraq as the "dominant organization of influence in al-Anbar," [8]

[edit] Towns and cities

[edit] See also

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