Iraq's pro-Iran political bloc 'breaking apart' amid political differences

Iraq's pro-Iran political bloc 'breaking apart' amid political differences
Iraq's Tehran-backed Supreme Islamic Council is facing internal disagreements, with members preparing to split and form individual parties ahead of local elections.
2 min read
24 April, 2017
Hakim's individual decisions fueled internal disputes within the council [Anadolu]

Cracks are emerging in Iraq's pro-Tehran Supreme Islamic Council as a number of senior figures prepare to split and form their own political parties ahead to run in next year's elections, sources have revealed.

The Iran-backed council - led by Ammar al-Hakim - was founded in Tehran during the Iraq-Iran war in the early 1980s.

It formed the Badr Brigades as its military wing - currently led by Hady al-Ameri - one of the most powerful political-militia forces in Iraq.

"Disputes have peaked within the Supreme Council's leadership," sources told The New Arab on condition of anonymity.

One side of the internal dispute includes former Vice President Adel Abdel Mahdy and former MP Jalal al-Din al Saghir, as well as Baqer al-Zubaidi.

A council member told The New Arab that Zubaidi, who has led the ministries of interior and transport in the past few years, had already split and will form a new party.

The other side of the dispute includes a younger non-founding generation backed by Hakim, who is seeking to resolve the dispute before registering the council as a political party participating in the upcoming elections.

The sources said one reason for the dispute is allegations that Hakim takes decisions without consulting other members. There were already objections to Hakim taking over the party after his father's death in Iran, the source said.

It also reflects other disputes in Baghdad as Iraqi forces battle the Islamic State group for control of Mosul.

Other divisions emerged within the National Alliance about the participation of members of Hashd al-Shaabi [Popular Mobilisation Forces] militias in local elections set to take place in September.

Reasons behind the internal division includes Hakim's individual decisions that he takes without consulting other members.

Those advocating for the group's inclusion have pointed to its pivotal role in turning back advances from the Islamic State group, and its involvement in the Mosul offensive.

Some leading figures - such as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and powerful Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr - oppose the participation of Hashd in the elections, arguing that members of the country's security forces are not permitted to run for office.

In January, Abadi said that local elections would take place in all Iraqi provinces next year. 

However, ongoing insecurity in many parts of Iraq could jepordise plans.