Iraqi Islamic Party

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(Other Political Parties)

The Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) is the largest Sunni Islamist party in Iraq. It is both very new and very old. It first came to Iraq in the early 1950s as the Iraqi branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (formed in 1928). It declared illegal in 1960 and existed as an underground organization for many years. Persecution intensified following the 1968 Baath coup. Most of its leading members were jailed, dead, or in exile. Those gathering in exile eventually decided they did not have the strength to overthrow the Baath government and effectively disbanded soon after.

In 1991 following the first US-Iraqi war the Brotherhood decided to revive the party. The revived party called for the overthrow of the Baath party and the establishment of an Islamic state. They also warned of a "US-led western conspiracy which was plotting to destroy [Iraq] in the interests of Israel and ensuring oil supplies to the western world." Though most public leaders were in exile in London it had an underground organization in Iraq as well. Much of Saddam's late religiosity was in part an effort to appeal to supporter of this group. The party claims credit for changing Saddam from an "out spoken non-believer into a hypocritical believer."

The Iraqi Islamic Party is headed by Mohsen Abdel Hamid. He and his party are generally considered a moderate Islamist. He meet is Sistani in March 2004 and the two agreed on the need to end sectarianism and emphasis the unity of all Muslims. The party supports the right of women to work and a democratic system. However they wish to enforce Sharia law, and there call for democracy requires a Muslim at the head of the government (though the Moslem need not be a cleric).

Many sources have referred to the Muslim Brotherhood as a moderate group who seek peaceful and gradual change. While their party platform does support this not all of their history does. In September 1981 it was members of the Muslim Brotherhood who assassinated Sadat. On the other hand the Iraqi Islamic Party played a major role in negotiating the settlement in Fallujah. The Iraqi Islamic Party represents the moderate Sunni Islamists. They are part of the greater Muslim Brotherhood which has organizations all over the Middle East. While pragmatic, open to working with, and not linked to Iran, they are very committed to enforcing Sharia law in the country.

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