Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Analysis: Iraq's Shiite political fissures widen

Abdul Aziz al-Hakim hides tears as results of the January 30, 2005 election makes his UIA the largest political bloc in parliament. Hakim had spent years in exile in Iran, and was also head of Iraq's largest militia, the Badr Brigade. His primary rival for influence is Moqtada al-Sadr, whose party is also part of the UIA.

BAGHDAD - Monday's departure of six government cabinet ministers from the Iraqi government will indeed erode support for American-backed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The ministers represented radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, on whom Mr. Maliki relied to take the top government post in Iraq.

But the withdrawal of the Sadrists – who left in protest over the prime minister's refusal to set a date for the departure of US troops – highlights more troubling developments: widening fissures within the country's ruling coalition and a brewing Shiite fight for supremacy that threatens to unravel the leading political coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA)...

In the case of Mr. Sadr, it's taking on the US military presence. For the rival Fadhila Islamic party, it's confronting Iranian influence and meddling. And for the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) led by the influential Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, it's purging all remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime.

Read the rest at the Christian Science Monitor