Chief of the Anbar Salvation council sheik Hameed Hayis announced the formation of “The Democratic Bloc of Anbar” that will enter the upcoming provincial elections in November and later general elections in 2009.
Hayis said the salvation council will work to expose plots by the Islamic Party that is trying to sideline technocrats and intellectuals, manipulate election results and establish a one-party reign “this we shall not allow”.
Hayis affirmed that “the Islamic Party lost its voter base in Anbar because it [the party] was not here for the people of Anbar and was busy minding its partisan interests…the Islamic Party has gone bankrupt”
Hayis expressed concerns that “provincial elections in Anbar will see a lot of fraud by the Islamic Party…we in the Salvation council believe that the Islamic Party has no other means than fraud to save face and occupy some seats in Anbar’s province council. [they can do that] because the elections commission in Anbar is completely taken over by the Islamic Party and most commission officials are members of the [Islamic] Party”
From following the course of security and political events in Anbar, it appears that this particular province will witness the most dramatic political reshuffle when provincial elections take place later this year.
The situation in Anbar is unique when compared to other parts of the country, especially the north and south. The latter regions are going to only see a redistribution of political power among existing religious/ethnic parties because until this moment, and elections are only a few months away, no new competitors emerged. Only in Anbar there’s a formidable challenge to Islamic powers represented by the Awakening and Salvation councils.
While these powers are overwhelmingly tribal in nature, they had never identified themselves as Islamic and they are showing signs of modernization by adding professional technocrats and intelligentsia to their ranks.