Conference on liberating Iraq’s Anbar ends in brawl

A chair-throwing fight ensued after participants exchanged accusations of ‘treason’ behind ISIS taking parts of Anbar

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A conference on liberating large portions of Iraq’s western province of Anbar from Islamist militants, held in the Al-Rasheed hotel in the capital Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone Wednesday, ended up in a chair-throwing fight.

The quarrel between tribal sheikhs from Anbar began due to their opposition against some of the figures attending and after accusations of “treason” were exchanged regarding the fall of parts of the Sunni-dominated province to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.

One of the attendees, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the fight took place after one individual – thought to be part of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s entourage, said the participation of the tribal sheikhs was “disrespectful.”

Meanwhile, Sheikh Mizhir Mula Khudhar, head of the Albu Fahad tribe which has lost dozens of its men to ISIS, told Al Arabiya News Net, the Arabic language portal, in a telephone interview that “the altercations and what followed took place after the conference and not during the talks.”

He emphasized the quarrel will not stop the sheikhs “[liberating] areas from the ISIS terrorist organization or wane their determination bring back those displaced to their home province.”

The sheikh of Albu Itha tribe told the local Anbar News website said the accusation of sheikhs failing to fight ISIS is an “insult” as “Anbar tribes have offered many of its sons to fight for the homeland and they know when to fight.”

A spokesman for the Anbar governor Hikmat Suleiman said the conference nevertheless was “successful.”

The conference was sponsored by the head of Iraq’s parliament Salim al-Jubouri.

Jubouri said the battle against ISIS to liberate Anbar is “imminent.”

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