POLITICS
03/31/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

US Trophy Province Anbar Losing Its Shine

Tensions are simmering again in once bloody Anbar province, Washington's prize good news story for security in Iraq.

Along the main road through Anbar's second city of Falluja, a former insurgent stronghold and scene of fierce battles with U.S. forces in 2004, markets and car workshops are re-opening for business.

But many say that growing anger at a lack of jobs, basic services and political progress threatens to shatter peace in the western province, which makes up about a third of Iraq.

"The situation till now is still not certain in Anbar, and the peace is only relative to before. Calm always comes before a storm," Sunni tribal leader Sheikh Yaseen al-Badrani said.

The U.S. military said in January it could transfer security responsibility for Anbar to Iraqi forces as early as this month, but now it is more cautious.

In an interview with Reuters, Major-General John Kelly, commander of U.S. forces in Anbar, would give no time-frame, saying only that the handover would take place soon.

Sunni tribal leaders, credited with cutting violence in Anbar by ordering their men to turn on Sunni Islamist al Qaeda, are growing increasingly impatient with politicians.

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