Disenfranchised: Iraq’s Anbar Province Treated Like a Territory

Govt Excludes Anbar From Official Data on Violence

There are plenty of examples of governments around the world treating parts of their land as territorial possessions with fewer rights than traditional provinces or states. Getting the franchise for statehood is a big step for those regions, and it’s virtually unheard of to lose it.

Yet that seems to be what is happening in Iraq’s Anbar Province, where the central government is treating it less and less like an equal province and more like a tribal frontier where locals enjoy fewer rights.

We’ve been seeing the first steps toward this for months, with the conspicuous exclusion of Anbar from official government monthly reports on violent deaths, even though it is the province with the largest number of such deaths.

This month’s election is a big escalation of that policy, as the government concedes much of Anbar just won’t be allowed to vote in the national election, because the electoral commission has decided its just too dangerous to send people there.

Much of Anbar doesn’t even have members of parliament anymore at any rate, after a large number of Sunni Arab MPs resigned earlier this year to protest the government’s arrest of one of them as a “terrorist.” Underrepresented Anbar looks to stay that way without an election.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s military continues to attack the Anbar capital of Ramadi, with at least 50 soldiers killed in clashes with “tribal fighters” overnight. The figure, as usual, will likely not be part of Iraq’s official April death toll.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.