Even though Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi had carried out an electoral campaigns in the predominantly Sunni Salaheddine province, he became the first Shi’ite leader to promote his candidate list in a purely Sunni region, which is al-Anbar, some 110 kms west of Baghdad.
He kicked off his visit on Sunday by inaugurating the police directorate of the Ameriyat al-Fallujah area.
He hailed during the opening the “resilience of the Ameriyat clans against ISIS terrorists, who tried and failed through their attacks and artillery, to destabilize this city.”
“The Iraqis did not surrender, but they achieved the victory. We are now headed towards the second victory, that of reconstruction, investment and providing job opportunities,” he declared.
“Just as we reached the military victory through our unity, we will achieve the victory of reconstruction through our unity as well,” he stressed.
Abadi also pledged to score a similar victory against corruption.
“Iraq has emerged stronger with the solidarity of its people. Some sides want to see us live in conflicts, but they will fail,” he added.
At the second stop of his trip to the province, University of Fallujah, Abadi said: “The world expected the war to last a long time, but we proved that the Iraqis can achieve miracles and the impossible.”
“The Iraqis are stronger than plots to divide them and we are very proud of our diversity,” he stressed.
Various Sunni leaders and clerics in Anbar interpreted to Asharq Al-Awsat Abadi’s visit to the province as an attempt to bridge sectarian divides.
Head of an electoral list rivaling the premier’s in Anbar, Hamid al-Hayes said: “His trip put aside the sectarian project that he once promoted and which several sides still promote.”
“The arrival of a Shi’ite leader at a Sunni region is significant and we see it as a positive sign that we hope will be repeated in other provinces,” he added.
Sheikh Ahmed Abou Risha, head of the Iraq Sahwa conference, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Abadi “skillfully used the victory against ISIS in our province in order to cement his position there.”
Iraq is set to hold elections on May 12.