As Iraqis celebrate the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Sahwa councils, security officials and Sahwa council leaders are warning about the threat al-Qaeda poses to the region.
The destruction and loss of life Iraqis suffered due to terrorist attacks launched by al-Qaeda is evidence that this organisation aims to threaten the peace and security of any region they become active in, tribal leaders said on Thursday (June 9th).
"Iraqis will convey what they suffered at the hands of al-Qaeda and the other extremist groups to all our Arab brothers in the region and all the countries of the world, so they will be alert and on guard against any attempt by al-Qaeda to plant its seeds on their land," said Sheikh Ahmed Abu Reesha, head of the Iraqi Sahwa Councils.
"All the peoples of the world should crush the monster of al-Qaeda before it grows, otherwise their fate will be very bad and horrible," he said.
Many tribal chiefs and Sahwa leaders pointed out that what is going on in some cities of Yemen is an example of al-Qaeda's attempt to expand its influence.
They stressed the importance of informing the region and the world of the crimes committed by al-Qaeda in Iraq, so that this will be a lesson to encourage others to confront the organisation and prevent it from carrying out its terrorist plans.
"A few days ago, we sent a written message to our brothers of the parties taking part in the joint meeting in Sanaa, and we expressed our hope that they will succeed in accomplishing freedom and democracy," said Sheikh Hameed al-Hayyes, an Sahwa council leader. "At the same time, we informed them that we are concerned about al-Qaeda's attempts in Yemen, and [we explained] why they should prevent any seed of it in their country and crush it with their feet."
"We are worried about the future of Yemen and its people. They will lose a lot if the al-Qaeda organization manages to expand its operations in their country," he told mawtani.com.
A number of Iraqi cities are celebrating the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Sahwa councils, whose members are also known as the "Sons of Iraq".
The councils were founded to join Iraqi and American security forces in fighting al-Qaeda and other armed groups. After Iraqi security forces took control of Iraq's cities, the Iraqi government incorporated some Sahwa members into the various security forces, while others were appointed to civilian jobs at ministries and government offices.
In Ramadi, citizens hung hundreds of Iraqi flags and signs in the streets. The signs had slogans denouncing the crimes of terrorism and hailing the sacrifices made by Iraqi security forces in their war against the terrorists.
The celebrations were held under the slogan, "Only recently we discovered that terror has no religion, and so we decided to destroy it".
"We got rid of the terrorists' control and their hegemony through our revolt and rejection of them," said Sheikh Jassem al-Suwaidawi, leader of the Sahwa council in Fallujah. "However, their traces among us shall remain for a long time and will not be erased easily. They destroyed everything and shed the blood of many who were very dear to us."
"The al-Qaeda terrorist organisation turned our country into total rubble and destruction, which had not been done in any part of the world. For this, we are still on the path of fighting the terrorists until they are all gone," he said.
Sheikh Raad al-Sabah, the military commander of Iraqi Sahwa forces, said Sahwa leaders want to warn other states, "because our experience with al-Qaeda was harsh".
"The people of the world should not be deceived by slogans or resonant speeches because they are only a guise for passing their terrorist plans and to fortify their feet on the ground. Then, they will commit the same crimes that they did in Iraq," he said.
Maj. Gen. Tariq al-Asaal, adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, said, "We worked with the Sahwa. They helped us and we helped them, and the secret behind al-Qaeda's defeat was the people's revolt against it."
"We now have a long experience with how the terrorists think and how to defeat them," he said. "We can provide our expertise to the brothers in the Arab countries. We hope they will heed our advice before it is too late."