We in Iraq’s Anbar province share President Obama’s outrage at the Islamic State’s heinous murder of journalist James Foley. Foley was an innocent, brave man doing a critical, humanitarian service in showing the world the suffering of the Syrian people. We express our deepest condolences to his family and friends and to the American people.
For about a year, Anbar has been fighting a fierce war against the terrorism of the Islamic State. This is a war begun on the timing and terms of the forces of darkness, but we are determined to end it in a way and at a time of our choosing — once we have rid the world of this tyranny. We are fighting this war to defend the right of all humanity, and not only Iraqis, to live in peace, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity.
It is the great, ironic misfortune of the Iraqi people to be “plagued” to live in a country with an abundance of natural resources at a place where many rich cultures converge. This has made Iraq a battleground among many forces seeking to dominate and influence it. The Iraqi people have also been unfortunate to have had leaders who did not see Iraq’s wealth as God’s gift for all to share and enjoy. We have suffered a great deal because of this wealth, but we also have been too quick to blame others for our suffering. One day we blame the West, another the East, but there is no one to blame but ourselves.
Anbar has been fighting terrorism for a long time. This fight has taken us on a journey of searching and contemplation. We have come to realize that, for us to defeat terrorists, we must first overcome the conflicts and fears within us and open our hearts and minds to others.
We are struggling in this war against the forces of darkness, but we are a people who can see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if it is thousands of miles away. No matter how dim the light, we hope that it will shine brighter every day.
Iraqis have the right to live in peace. Our young people have the right to enjoy all the wonderful things that life has to offer. And we have a responsibility to give them hope that will empower them to live life to the fullest, to reach out to their counterparts in other nations and to turn away from death and extremism.
We have lost so many brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and friends, of all ages, while fighting this battle. We are proud, and we are fighting because we want to live free, because we want to rid the world of this cancer that has hijacked our religion, because we are concerned that a generation will be brainwashed to glorify death, suicide bombings, beheadings. History will not forgive us if we allow this cancer to spread. It must be stopped. We cannot stop it alone.
Last week, President Obama declared that this group, the Islamic State, “has no place in the 21st century.” Mr. President, we agree with you.
Ahmed Khalaf Al-Dulaimi is governor of Iraq’s Anbar province.