RAMADI, Iraq — In the unforgiving badlands of western Iraq’s Anbar Province, once a cradle of the insurgency and now a muddled landscape of corruption, simmering strife and spirited electoral campaigning, no one seems ready to pardon Hamid al-Hais.
Mr. Hais is a sheik, a title that conveys his tribal pedigree. But that title is too facile in describing one of the more complicated figures in Iraq today. He is also a veteran of the American-backed war against insurgents, a Sunni Muslim politician, and now, in his most recent incarnation, an unlikely confederate of the Iraqi National Alliance, the Shiite Muslim standard-bearer in elections in March for a new Parliament.
A bid for national unity, Mr. Hais calls his foray across Iraq’s entrenched sectarian divide. Many of his neighbors do not see it that way. A traitor to his sect, a stooge of neighboring Iran’s Shiite government, and a rank opportunist, they say.