The Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) used to be one of the most powerful parties in Iraq. Today it is a shell of its former self. It went from one of the leaders in the government to now an afterthought. It faced another setback in March, when its former militia, the Badr Organization announced that it was becoming an independent party.
On March 11, 2012, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) and the Badr Organization released a statement saying that they were splitting into two parties. This was a long time coming, as there have been stories of the two breaking apart since 2009. This was caused by two main factors, first a leadership struggle after the passing of the Supreme Council’s head, and the failure of the party to hold onto power in two rounds of voting.
|Dissension over Ammar Hakim becoming the leader of the Supreme Council after his father died in 2009 was one reason why Badr eventually left the party in 2012 (ISCI)|
First, the head of the SIIC, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim passed away. In August 2009, the elder Hakim died in Tehran, Iran from cancer. His son, Ammar Hakim, was named his successor, much to the chagrin of the older leaders within the party. One of those was Hadi Ameri, the head of Badr, who believed that the younger Hakim lacked the status and experience to the run the SIIC. The old guard thought they should be in control of the party, instead of Ammar who they considered an upstart.
Then, in 2009 and 2010, the Supreme Council faired badly in elections. In January 2009, the party lost control of most of the provincial councils in the south that it had won in 2005. In the following March 2010 parliamentary vote, the Supreme Council only won eight seats, and Badr nine, placing it far behind its erstwhile coalition partners the Sadrists with 39 seats, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law with 89. Not only that, but the party split over who it would back as prime minister. Ammar Hakim hoped to place former Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi into power, and then backed Iyad Allawi of the Iraqi National Movement, while Hadi Ameri and Badr supported Maliki. As a result, Ameri became Minister of Transportation as a reward, while the SIIC got no top positions. In two successive elections, the Supreme Council went from one of the leading parties in Iraq, to being a second tier one, only brought into the negotiations as a swing vote or to finish off the ruling coalition rather than being a kingmaker as it had been before. This increased the resentment against Hakim’s stewardship of the list.
|Haid Ameri is the head of the Badr Organization, and his backing of Maliki after the 2010 elections led him to become Transportation Minister in the new government|
Finally, Hakim attempted to promote younger people within the party. He went after new voters, pushed organizations like the Shaheed Al-Mihrab Foundation, and changed the name of the political party from Mihrab Martyr List to Muwatin. Again, the old guard did not want more new faces challenging their positions within the party, and disagreed with continued changes being made by Ammar.
All together the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council has been going through serious challenges in recent years. It’s leader passed, it lost much of its support in southern and central Iraq, the naming of Ammar Hakim led to dissension within the ranks, and then his subsequent decisions to try to renew the party led to nothing but resentment by older leaders. It was no surprise then when the Badr Organization announced that it would no longer be part of the list in March. The divisions had grown too deep and the differences too large for the two to remain together. The Supreme Council will continue to try to find its way in the new political scene. It will give nominal support to the prime minister, while attempting to rebuild its base, and find some independence. Badr on the other hand, will stand by Maliki, and reap the rewards of being close to the seat of power. This all seems a natural progression of Iraqi politics as the parties that came into office after 2003 have all had to change, adapt, and sometimes fall like the SIIC.
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