AR RAMADI, Iraq -- The elders of local tribes listened intently as police commanders scribbled down notes; department leaders brought their concerns and ideas before the chairman, and the outlook for the future began to change.
The West Central Ramadi District Council held its first official meeting at the Joint Coordination Center in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, March 25, to begin their efforts in aiding the residents of the district.
Responsible for the Warar, Jumaya, Sharikah, Azizia, Qatana and Thayala neighborhoods of the city, the council will meet weekly to address the concerns of the people, the security situation in the area, and reconstruction projects to improve quality of life.
The opening meeting saw the attendance of six sheikhs from local tribes, five department representatives of varying civil services, two security representatives from local police stations, the vice president of the council and the president.
“It was a good meeting, we didn’t expect so many to attend,” said Saad Hamid Sharqi, president of the council.
The meeting began with all in attendance discussing the direction of the council and its responsibilities to the people.
Unemployed citizens, a stubborn insurgency and a damaged infrastructure are the major concerns of the residents, and the council’s main issues to resolve.
Despite the large task ahead of them, the council quickly found its way forward, citing reconstruction projects as the way to solve nearly all of the areas problems at once.
“Reconstruction projects will kill unemployment and restart life in our neighborhoods,” said Arif Mukhaibir Sayad, vice president of the council. “Employing our citizens will also cut off one of the main advantages of the insurgency.”
The council was able to begin their concept almost immediately, voting to begin four new reconstruction projects in the district.
Local residents will be contracted through the council to collect the trash, remove rubble from the streets, build a veterans’/elders’ center, and build a permanent guard house in one of the neighborhoods.
The news of the upcoming improvement has already reached the neighborhoods to be affected, prompting citizens to approach the council members in support.
“I hear on a daily basis how the people are excited about what’s going on,” said Saad. “The Ramadi people are tired of fighting and are ready to restart their peaceful lives.”
With an outpouring of cooperation from tribal leaders, security representatives and the local populace, the council received a positive impression from their first meeting.
Representing their families, friends and neighbors, the members of the district council are eager to spearhead further positive changes and bring peace to their city.
“Ramadi will shine like it did long ago and the city will be safe,” said Saad. “People will say, ‘insurgents WE’RE here.’”