The district of al-Qa'im is located in western Anbar province, right on the border with Syria. The most important settlement in the district is the town of al-Qa'im itself. In the period of 2014-2017, the district of al-Qa'im was under the control of the Islamic State. Since the recapture of the district of al-Qa'im by Iraqi forces, the municipal office has worked to restore services to the area.
To learn more the current situation in al-Qa'im, I conducted an interview with the media of the directorate of the al-Qa'im district municipal office. This interview was conducted on 27 September 2020. It is slightly edited and condensed for clarity. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Q: What is the number of inhabitants in al-Qa'im currently and what is the proportion of the original inhabitants who have returned to al-Qa'im approximately? Who are the biggest tribes in al-Qa'im?
A: In terms of the number of inhabitants of the district of al-Qa'im, it has exceeded 142,000 inhabitants according to the survey of 2019. And this great number is counted inside this district.
As for the original returning inhabitants to al-Qa'im after the liberation of the district, around 80% have been returned in a voluntary sense and a governmental sense.
And the district of al-Qa'im is considered varied in terms of the tribes, as it is inhabited by the al-Karabila tribe, which is the biggest of the tribes in terms of the number of inhabitants, followed by the Albu Mahal tribe that is considered the second largest of the tribes present. This tribe is in turn followed by the al-Salman tribe in third position in terms of the inhabitants.
Q: What are the most important accomplishments of the municipal office since the liberation of al-Qa'im from the Dawa'esh [Islamic State]? I mean for example accomplishments in terms of reconstruction and restoring services. Are there any new projects? And are there any international NGOs assisting your efforts? What are the most important challenges? How are you trying to resolve these problems?
A: Despite the weakness of governmental support from the central government to the municipal office of al-Qa'im, it is nonetheless continuing in its accomplishments despite the lack of vehicles with it. So after the liberation of the district in 2017, it completed the al-Qa'im-al-Ramadi street in its first stage, which reaches a distance of more than 5 km. And the municipal office of the district of al-Qa'im completed a number of the streets inside the sub-districts of the district, even as it should be noted that the district is neglected because of lack of support.
And also after the year 2018 the works began to follow in succession to the district of al-Qa'im as work began on the Hawali street that heads towards the Syrian-Iraqi borders, reaching a distance of more than 5 km.
Also work began on the main street from the entrance of the district of al-Qa'im to the customs complex whose distance reaches 4 km.
The directorate of the municipal office of the district of al-Qa'im is facing great challenges because of the pressure that it is suffering from on account of the many appeals from the citizens and the governmental pressure, in spite of the lack of governmental support for it.
And the international NGOs have an active role in restoring stability to the town of al-Qa'im and have been the first supporter of the municipal office of al-Qa'im as they distributed more than 6000 garbage bags and more than 3000 garbage containers a number of months ago.
The solutions are very simple but they need continual support from the directorate of the municipal offices of Anbar and the local government in Anbar in order to support the municipal office with financing and vehicles. Note that the directorate of the municipal office of al-Qa'im only has 17 vehicles.
Q: Can we say that the services situation has not yet returned to what it was before 2014?
A: Before 2014 the services were very good. And after the liberation of the district the services became almost non-existent, and this is because of the weakness of governmental support for the district.
Q: What is the proportion of destruction in al-Qa'im approximately because of the Da'esh occupation and the war?
A: The proportion of destruction is 5% only, not greater than this figure.
Q: Praise be to God.
A: But there are more than 3000 kidnapped in the district of al-Qa'im: they were kidnapped by the terrorist Da'esh organisation. And most of them are of the people affiliated with the security forces and the defenceless civilians. Possibly 25% may be alive in the SDF prisons. Also I did a report about their families for the Salah al-Din channel, and 90% of their families are without salaries.