Iraq after Abdulaziz al-Hakim


Abdulaziz al-Hakim played a prominent role in Iraqi politics. A firm friend of Ali Khamenei and an Iraqi of questionable national loyalty he was surprisingly favored by the Bush Administration. Under Obama a Shiite Arab dominated Iraq ruled by freely elected Islamists who still see Qom as the final guarantor of their survival still seems to be the policy goal DC is myopically charging towards.

Iraqis out in force for Hakim funeral
(AFP) – 1 hour ago

NAJAF, Iraq — Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets of Najaf on Saturday for the funeral of powerful Shiite politician Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, as his body arrived in the southern shrine city.

Hakim's coffin, draped in an Iraqi flag, was earlier paraded in the nearby holy Shiite city of Karbala, where crowds also gathered ahead of a funeral ceremony expected to take place in Najaf around 3.00 pm (1200 GMT).

Hakim, 60, who died in a Tehran hospital on Wednesday after a 28-month battle against lung cancer, was hailed as "leader of the fight" against the tyrannical reign of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, when his body arrived home on Friday.

The former head of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC), Iraq's largest Shiite political party, was one of the principal leaders in exile of the opposition to Saddam, who waged a devastating 1980-88 war against Iran.

In 1982, Hakim helped to establish an opposition movement in Iran against Saddam's Sunni-dominated regime and only returned to Iraq following the US-led invasion of 2003.

A scion of one of the traditional leading families among Iraq's Shiite majority, Hakim took over the leadership of his party in August 2003 after his brother Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim was assassinated in Najaf.

Their father, Grand Ayatollah Mohsen al-Hakim, was one of Shiite Islam's top spiritual leaders between 1955 and 1970.

The SIIC swept Shiite areas in the first provincial elections after the invasion, but in polls seven months ago the party suffered major losses.
Juan Cole has an Obit here.

Perhaps the death of Iran's most elevated asset in Iraq and the decline of the most Qom friendly party the ISCI should be a cause for celebration?

Then we should recall the grouping of major Shiite parties, United Iraqi Alliance, all close to Iran has reformed as The Iraqi National Alliance to excluding Nouri al-Maliki and Da'wa.

There are rumors of Qom offering to secure 49 seats for Da'wa if Nouri bends the knee to them of course.

Then there is the situation in Iran since the botched elections seen by some as a "golden moment" to squeeze concessions from an increasingly hard line regime. There's the approach of Barry's deadline for engagement and soft promises to Israel of harsh sanction on Iran if it does not cease its nuke program. This is now a politically wounded POTUS in need of victories. A diplomatic collision if not a military one is likely by the end of this year.

In AT As US fades, Iran ups the ante in Iraq By Shahir Shahidsaless
Observers believe that if Maliki doesn't join this group, he will have little chance at re-election. Whether Maliki's Da'wa Party, which has close ties to Tehran, will also join the coalition is not yet clear. In either case, 2010 will almost certainly mark the official rise of Iran as a foreign power in Iraq.

According to the Washington Post, a top Iraqi intelligence officer said that in five years, absent the US military, Iraq would be a colony of Iran. This is an exaggeration, but it is true that while US forces are increasingly becoming spectators in Iraq, Iran is systematically increasing its influence.

If Washington, as many analysts believe, has decided to take advantage of Iran's internal unrest to push the government on the nuclear issue, there is a crucial point to be considered: the arena of confrontation won't be picked by the US alone. When push comes to shove, the Iranian government will expand confrontation to multiple fronts, and Iraq will be its first choice.

In its latest issue, Sobhe Sadegh, the official press organ of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, responded to Obama's engagement policy with Iran by claiming, "We don't think globally and act locally. We think and act globally."
I get the sense of the political pieces being patiently put in place for Qom's endgame in Iraq. Iraqi politics in itself being just one of many logical lines of operation.


On Jamestown =35477&tx_ttnews[backPid]=26&cHash=593afd2c2f]The Implications of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim’s Death for Iraqi Security By Babak Rahimi
In reality, Hakim’s demise has now created a power vacuum that could lead to major changes within Iraqi politics:

• It could provide an opportunity for more radical Shi’a groups like the Sadrists or Hadi al-Amiri’s Badr Organization to claim power, while more moderate factions (i.e. those without militias) may feel intimidated and marginalized within the new Shi’a-led alliance.

• Within the ISCI, Ammar might merely serve as a figurehead, while the hard-line old guard within the party, led by figures like Bayan Jabr (a former Badr Corps commander), Shaykh Jalauddin Saghir (senior cleric in Baghdad’s huge Buratha mosque) and Hadi al-Amiri (head of the parliamentary defense and security committee) could take charge of the party, contributing to a sectarian type of politics reminiscent of the volatile early post-war period.

• The greatest impact Hakim’s death might have is in undermining Maliki’s influence in the Shi’a electoral landscape, possibly leading to his downfall at the hands of the ISCI, now at the head of the new Iraqi National Alliance.

The main implication of these changes is the possibility of an increase in hard-line Iranian influence led by the Revolutionary Guard, on which the ISCI and Sadrists have become increasingly reliant for financial and military support. This is already evident in Tehran’s bold attempt to reconcile the tension between Baghdad and Damascus over regional security. The Iranian diplomatic mission is led by the Iranian ambassador to Iraq, Hussain Kazemi Qomi, a former Revolutionary Guard officer who maintains close ties with ISCI (Fars News Agency, September 3). A shift towards more Iranian-leaning Shi’a politics could anger Iraq’s Sunnis, especially the nationalists, who might see the changing political landscape as a threat to their interests. Although it remains to be seen whether al-Maliki will eventually join the new INA, Iraq will likely witness more violence ahead of the elections as Baghdad gradually seeks to break away from the sectarian politics represented by Abdul Aziz Hakim and his Shi’a federalism.

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