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Jul 24, 2017 | 20:26 GMT

Iraq: Major Party Leader Splits off to Form New Group

Ammar al-Hakim announced July 24 that he was stepping down as the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), a major Shiite political party, to form the new National Wisdom party. Little is known about this new organization, although al-Hakim will retain his seat as chairman of the Shiite National Alliance, an umbrella group of Shiite political parties that hold more than half the seats in the Iraqi National Assembly.

The National Wisdom party's creation comes amid two major transitions in Iraqi politics. Now that the major military battles to oust Islamic State militants from key cities such as Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul are over, the country's attention, which had been keenly focused on the security situation, is shifting toward burgeoning political battles. In addition, parliamentary elections approaching in April 2018 have prompted leaders like al-Hakim to try to position themselves and their parties to maximize political gains.

The ISCI, which is heavily influenced by Iran, has long been led by members of the Al-Hakim family. Recently, however, the party and its leadership have faced criticism as accusations of corruption surfaced against ISCI leaders. In addition, some prominent senior ISCI leaders have complained to Iranian officials that Al-Hakim was leading the party in the wrong direction. His push for younger members to take over key party leadership posts reportedly drew their disapproval.

Given the enduring close relationship between Al-Hakim and Iran, visible in his recent visits to the country and diplomatic contacts with Iranian leaders, it could be expected that the nascent National Wisdom party will receive Tehran's support.

 

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