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U.S. forces to hand over hard-won Anbar Province

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That attack was claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq, an Al Qaeda-linked group, in a purported statement posted on the Internet. It said the victims, which included several tribal leaders and officials including Kamal al-Halbousi, a member of the Anbar provincial council, "sold their souls to the American devil for a cheap price."

Indeed, the strike on Garmah and others in Baghdad and the Sunni strongholds of Diyala and Nineveh provinces over the past week underscore the fragility of the situation and raise questions concerning the readiness of Iraqis to assume more security duties, particularly in places like Anbar, Diyala, and Nineveh, long associated with the Sunni Arab insurgency. The Garmah bomber was reportedly dressed as an Iraqi police commando.

The US has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on reconstruction in Anbar and on training, equipping, and funding local forces, including the tribal militias, who make up the anti-AQI forces known as the Awakening. In some instances, the American money has been used to buy the allegiances of powerful tribal sheikhs.

But Anbar remains as it has always been: fiercely clannish, nationalistic, and conservative. It's a place that is hostile to outsiders, be they Americans or foreign fighters. The American money spent here also does not appear to have helped much in reconciling this vast western province with Iraq's Shiite-led government in Baghdad.

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