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Iraqi Islamic Party

The largest official Sunni party is the Iraqi Islamic Party, whose leader Tariq al Hashimi was elected vice president in the first permanent government. That party is the foundation of the Sunni Iraqi Accord Front, which gained 44 seats in the parliamentary elections of December 2005. It was represented by Muhsin Abd al-Hamid on the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council. The Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP), established in 1960, was suppressed during the regime of former President Saddam Hussein. Many of its members were forced to flee the country. The party returned to public life after coalition forces occupied Iraq. The IIP seeks to preserve the leading role Sunnis have had in running the country starting with the establishment of the modern Iraqi state in the beginning of the 20th century.

The Iraqi Islamic Party was formed as an Iraqi Muslim Brotherhood organization, and conducted underground work during the Baathist period. Thee party does not considers itself a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood Group, established in Egypt in 1994, nor a political front for it in Iraq. The Iraqi Islamic Party acknowledges strong ties to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood through political and intellectual alliances.

The Muslim Brotherhood began public activities in Iraq in 1944 under the name Islamic Brotherhood Society and under the leadership of Shaykh Muhammad Mahmud al-Sawwaf and Shaykh Amjad al-Zahawi. In 1960, it established a political party, the Islamic Party. After the Ba'th Party seized power, many Muslim Brotherhood member were arrested, and some were executed, the most prominent of whom were Abd-al-Aziz al-Badri, Muhammad Faraj, and Abd-al-Aziz Shindalah.

After the 1991 Gulf War, the Brotherhood resumed underground work. They made use of the religious activities sponsored by Saddam Hussein under the "Faith Campaign" which was launched to confront the Shiite opposition. The Faith Campaign included the imposition of religious manifestations on visual media, building large numbers of mosques, publishing religious books, and encouraging Sufi groups, which were supervised by Saddam's deputy, Izzat al-Duri.

The revival of the Iraqi Islamic Party was announced in exile under the leadership of Iyad al-Samarra'i, and after the toppling of the Iraqi regime and the restoration of the public political life in Iraq, the party declared itself under the leadership of Muhsin Abd-al-Hamid, a professor at Baghdad University. He had been imprisoned under the Ba'th regime, but was released due to the mediation of Hasan al-Turabi, who was then a prominent official of the Sudanese regime. The Iraqi Islamic Party is popular specifically among the Sunni Arabs, and has announced the opening of some 90 branches.



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