Iraq’s acting defense minister looks beleaguered, his face drawn, with deep bags below his eyes from a lack of sleep.

For four months, Sadoun al-Dulaimi has been operating from Anbar, the most dangerous province for U.S. soldiers during the Iraq war and one again riven by conflict.

The army has dispatched 42,000 troops here in a bid to quell al-Qaeda-inspired jihadists and hostile tribesmen, whose resurgence is posing the biggest test for the Iraqi military and the country’s Shiite-led government since the withdrawal of U.S. forces 2 1/2 years ago. […]