As Anbar province shakes off the shackles of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS), local tribes are taking a united stand to restore the rule of law.
They have pledged to reject all tribesmen who joined ISIS and to ensure these people receive just punishment for their actions, local officials told Diyaruna.
As the full recovery of the province draws near, tribal representatives also plan to hold a series of consultations to discuss ways to stabilise the province and prevent it from slipping back into a cycle of violence, they said.
To this end, they have developed shared ideas on strengthening the rule of law and enhancing the efforts of the Iraqi forces to maintain control in the area.
'Rule of law must prevail'
"We need to make things right again," said Nazim al-Jughaifi, a commander with the Haditha tribal fighters.
"Whomever had pledged allegiance to ISIS and has innocent blood on his hands should not remain free," he told Diyaruna, noting that the tribal forces will help to apprehend ISIS elements so "they can be tried for their crimes".
"The position of all tribes regarding these terrorists is consistent and united," he said: "They must be served justice and be held firmly accountable for the atrocities they have committed."
Many tribes have compiled lists of those who joined ISIS and stand accused of murder, persecuting and displacing residents and destroying property, he said.
Though ISIS forced many people to pledge allegiance to it through threats and intimidation, he said, Anbar tribes must ascertain that these people were not involved in acts of violence before their status can be restored.
When the tribes meet, they will discuss this issue, al-Jughaifi said.
"Everyone is treated according to what they have done, and the final decision is up to the judiciary, whose sovereignty we support," he added.
The tribes have agreed "we will not allow any attempts by any side and any party to stir a sentiment of vengeance", he said, stressing that "the rule of law alone should prevail".
Stability is being achieved by "tightening control over the border to prevent any influx of terrorists and allowing more people to participate in keeping their cities secure", al-Jughaifi said.
Tribes support stability
Sheikh Abdullah al-Jughaifi, a tribal leader in Haditha and head of Ahrar al-Furat, stressed the need to "eliminate all forms of corruption within the security establishment" in Anbar.
"We as tribe members all stand in support of the efforts to bring about stability," he told Diyaruna. "It is our responsibility to shoulder the burden in constant partnership with the security forces."
According to al-Jughaifi, there has been strong popular rejection of those who joined ISIS.
"They are wanted for trial, and the tribes continue to help the police and the army to track them down and arrest them," he said.
"Some cities in Anbar, such as Haditha, Ameriyat al-Fallujah and al-Khalidiya, are completely free of terrorists," he said, but others, especially recently liberated cities, are still suffering from security breaches.
This is largely due to sleeper cells and the support bases and strongholds that enable them to hide, "which must be fought and eradicated", he said.
"This will be our top priority in the coming phase, and we will not accept that the terrorists have any presence in our regions, nor allow any tribal conflicts or reprisals to take place," al-Jughaifi added.
Preserving social cohesion
The Anbar tribes all agree to support and preserve the unity of the province's social fabric, Anbar provincial council member Karim al-Karbouli told Diyaruna.
"A written agreement was signed two years ago by most Anbar tribes, which has won the support of our local government and the national parliament," he said.
This calls for the rejection of terrorism and a commitment to Iraqi unity and peaceful co-existence, he said.
In the days ahead, leaders and representatives of Anbar tribes will meet with security and local leaders to revive that agreement, al-Karbouli said.
"As the liberation of Anbar nears completion, the stage of ensuring stability is no less difficult and requires exceptional co-operation between everyone," he added.
"Families of ISIS members who have supported their children also must not be shown forgiveness," he said, adding that "they will face the legal consequences".
Families who have distanced themselves from members who joined ISIS will not be subjected to legal actions or reprisals, he said, adding that the upcoming tribal meetings will "draw a new future for the province".