AR RAMADI, Iraq -- The city of Ramadi has long needed strong leadership to make bigger steps in its reconstruction, and that leadership arrived recently in the form of a new mayor.
Latif Obaid Ayadah was appointed as Mayor of Ramadi in early January, filling a void in city leadership that had been abandoned for many months.
Hand picked by the Governor of Al Anbar, Mayor Latif has brought legitimacy to the city government with a strong work ethic and demand for results.
“The leaders of Al Anbar have been looking for a qualified person for quite some time,” said Maj. Scott J. Kish, 38-year-old civil affairs team leader for 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. “(Mayor Latif) is someone everyone could agree to and approve of.”
The appointment of Mayor Latif had an immediate affect on the city’s government, bringing back multiple key leaders.
Prior to Mayor Latif’s arrival, the city had only three active city directors, who supervised Ramadi’s water, electricity and sewage.
Since his arrival, the number of directors has doubled as the directors of municipality, civil defense and industry returned to work with Mayor Latif, said Kish, a native of Sterling, Virg.
“For months we’ve said that all of the city’s situations would improve with a strong mayor to hold the people accountable,” said Kish. “In the short time he has been in office, that has been happening.”
Mayor Latif has met with city leaders and Coalition Forces on many occasions during his first month, voicing concerns for a variety of issues on the city’s reconstruction.
As the legitimate leader of Ramadi, Mayor Latif is now responsible for the review of all projects and contracts to rebuild the city.
“He will provide a sounding board for all reconstruction projects in Ramadi,” said Kish. “Nothing will be approved unless endorsed by the mayor.”
Mayor Latif hopes to use the reconstruction projects for the city to increase employment for the residents of Ramadi.
With a focus on spreading the work throughout the city, Mayor Latif will increase the people’s involvement in their own future.
“I want to give the work to those who have come forward to help secure our city,” said Mayor Latif. “We don’t want to concentrate on certain individuals, but spread the work to involve more of the people.”
Although much of his focus will be on reconstruction efforts, Mayor Latif recognizes security as a vital factor in the city’s success.
The growth of Ramadi’s police force is the mayor’s top goal for the near future.
“I hope for the return of all the police to the city for its security, because reconstruction cannot happen without it,” said Mayor Latif.
Although not to full strength, the Ramadi police force has seen a significant rise in numbers over the last few months.
The support of local tribes has led to the recruitment of hundreds of local residents hoping to help the security situation in their neighborhoods.
The rise in volunteers for Ramadi’s police force has been seen as a testament to the dedication of local residents in protecting their city.
“The tribal leaders bring their family into the police force, in the face of an insurgency, because they believe in fighting those who come from outside the city to force evil on its residents,” said Mayor Latif.
Mayor Latif claims the people of Ramadi have grown sick of “paying the price” of the insurgents, leading to the rise in support.
With the renewed support of the people and growing security forces, Mayor Latif is confident Ramadi will continue to progress with time.
“The city has come a long way, but we need time to do more,” said Mayor Latif. “God willing, we will return the life to this city.”