Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP)

Year of Origin:

1960 Katherine Blue Carrol, “Not Your Parents’ Political Party: Young Sunnis and the New Iraqi Democracy,” Middle East Policy Council, Fall 2011, v.18, n.3, http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policy-archives/not-your-parents-political-party-young-sunnis-and-new-iraqi-democracy?print.

Founder(s):
Shaykh Muhammad Mahmud al-Sawwaf, Shaykh Amjad al-Zahawi
Place(s) of Operation:
Iraq

Iraq

The Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) is the Iraqi branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (i.e. the Brotherhood). Established in 1960, the IIP was swiftly banned by Iraqi nationalists and remained outlawed under the regime of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (1979-2003).Tallha Abdulrazaq, “The Iraqi Islamic Party: Failing the Sunnis,” Middle East Eye, Mary 27, 2015, http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/failing-sunnis-iraqi-islamic-party-681053448; “Sunni Arabs,” PBS Frontline, accessed March 22, 2017, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/beyond/etc/pop_sunni.html. The IIP resurfaced after Hussein’s fall from power in 2003, and has since grown to become the largest Sunni political party in Iraq.Katherine Blue Carrol, “Not Your Parents’ Political Party: Young Sunnis and the New Iraqi Democracy,” Middle East Policy Council, Fall 2011, v.18, n.3, http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policy-archives/not-your-parents-political-party-young-sunnis-and-new-iraqi-democracy?print; “Iraqi Islamic Party,” Global Security, accessed September 27, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/iraq/iip.htm. While the IIP does not formally call itself a Brotherhood outfit, the party has acknowledged its longstanding ideological ties to the Brotherhood and continues to provide rhetorical support for the movement in Egypt.Mahan Abedine, “Politics and Violence in Iraq: An Interview with Fareed Sabri,” Jamestown Foundation, May 23, 2005, https://jamestown.org/interview/politics-and-violence-in-iraq-an-interview-with-fareed-sabri/; Joscelyne Cesari, The Awakening of Muslim Democracy: Religion, Modernity, and the State (New York, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014) 153, https://books.google.com/books?id=WgFeAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA153&lpg=PA153&dq=iraqi+islamic+party+1960&source=bl&ots=60eAi_YbNU&sig=X8BqsIWzbuzAEYjFbgrghrVD6Gg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi24r2un-rSAhXqxlQKHXtPDGY4ChDoAQg3MAY#v=onepage&q=iraqi%20islamic%20party%201960&f=false. The IIP is perceived as a sectarian party and has been accused of nurturing the wave of sectarian violence that swept the country in the mid-2000s.Katherine Blue Carrol, “Not Your Parents’ Political Party: Young Sunnis and the New Iraqi Democracy,” Middle East Policy Council, Fall 2011, v.18, n.3, http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policy-archives/not-your-parents-political-party-young-sunnis-and-new-iraqi-democracy?print.

The IIP was founded in 1960 as the Iraqi branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Banned by Iraq’s nationalist strongman General Abd al-Karim Qasim soon after its inception, the party was forced to move underground.Edward Wong, “The Struggle For Iraq: Politics; Falluja Role Gives Stature to Islamic Party,” New York Times, May 1, 2004, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/01/world/the-struggle-for-iraq-politics-falluja-role-gives-stature-to-islamic-party.html?_r=0; Tallha Abdulrazaq, “The Iraqi Islamic Party: Failing the Sunnis,” Middle East Eye, Mary 27, 2015, http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/failing-sunnis-iraqi-islamic-party-681053448. When the Ba’ath party took power in Iraq in 1968, the government began to systematically arrest and execute IIP members, prompting some of the group’s members to flee the country.“Iraqi Islamic Party,” Global Security, accessed September 27, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/iraq/iip.htm. As a scattered organization operating both underground and in exile, the IIP was able to maintain a network of supporters but was unable to establish public social welfare institutions like the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.Katherine Blue Carrol, “Not Your Parents’ Political Party: Young Sunnis and the New Iraqi Democracy,” Middle East Policy Council, Fall 2011, v.18, n.3, http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policy-archives/not-your-parents-political-party-young-sunnis-and-new-iraqi-democracy?print.

The IIP and other Iraqi Islamist groups were granted nominal freedoms in 1993, when Saddam Hussein initiated the Faith Campaign in pursuit of an Islamist agenda. Under the campaign, the IIP was permitted to build mosques and publish religious books and visual media. Despite these freedoms, however, the group was still prohibited from operating as a political party.“Iraqi Islamic Party,” Global Security, accessed September 27, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/iraq/iip.htm.

After the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003, the transitional government lifted the ban on opposition political organizations, including the IIP. Reestablished as a formal political party in the summer of 2003, the IIP elected its new party president, formerly imprisoned Professor Mohsen Abdel Hamid. Given its early participation in Iraqi politics and decades of operation as an underground and exiled movement, the IIP was able to quickly reorganize and begin constructing offices, mosques, medical clinics, and media stations—becoming the largest Sunni political party in Iraq.Katherine Blue Carrol, “Not Your Parents’ Political Party: Young Sunnis and the New Iraqi Democracy,” Middle East Policy Council, Fall 2011, v.18, n.3, http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policy-archives/not-your-parents-political-party-young-sunnis-and-new-iraqi-democracy?print; “Iraqi Islamic Party,” Global Security, accessed September 27, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/iraq/iip.htm. IIP president Mohsen Abdel Hamid later served as the president of the Interim Iraq Government Council in February 2004.“Iraqi Islamic Party,” Global Security, accessed September 27, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/iraq/iip.htm.

The IIP did not participate in Iraq’s first national elections in January 2005 following the fall of the Hussein regime. The party did, however, run in several of the provincial races in December of that year, winning 15 percent of the seats in the new Iraqi parliament.Katherine Blue Carrol, “Not Your Parents’ Political Party: Young Sunnis and the New Iraqi Democracy,” Middle East Policy Council, Fall 2011, v.18, n.3, http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policy-archives/not-your-parents-political-party-young-sunnis-and-new-iraqi-democracy?print; “Iraqi Islamic Party,” Global Security, accessed September 27, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/iraq/iip.htm. In the mid-late 2000s, however, younger IIP members—frustrated by the group’s strict hierarchy and lack of opportunity for younger members—began to split off from the group, officially forming the Sunni political party Iraqi National Tribal Grouping (INTG) in February 2008.Katherine Blue Carrol, “Not Your Parents’ Political Party: Young Sunnis and the New Iraqi Democracy,” Middle East Policy Council, Fall 2011, v.18, n.3, http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policy-archives/not-your-parents-political-party-young-sunnis-and-new-iraqi-democracy?print. The IIP’s decline in membership caused the party to perform poorly in Iraq’s 2009 provincial elections. In the 2010 parliamentary elections, the IIP and the INTG lost a number of parliamentary seats to Iraq’s popular Shiite al-Iraqiya List party.Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, “Iraq Protests Present Muslim Brotherhood With Opportunity,” January 9, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/01/muslim-brotherhood-iraq.html.

In late 2010, at the start of the Arab Spring movement, the IIP sought to garner support among Sunnis by highlighting the Muslim Brotherhood’s victories across Arab League nations.Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, “Iraq Protests Present Muslim Brotherhood With Opportunity,” January 9, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/01/muslim-brotherhood-iraq.html. The IIP organized a series of demonstrations throughout Iraq’s Sunni neighborhoods, attracting thousands of supporters. During these demonstrations, the IIP deployed Islamist clerics and speakers to rally the crowds in support of the party’s Islamist messaging.Katherine Blue Carrol, “Not Your Parents’ Political Party: Young Sunnis and the New Iraqi Democracy,” Middle East Policy Council, Fall 2011, v.18, n.3, http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policy-archives/not-your-parents-political-party-young-sunnis-and-new-iraqi-democracy?print; Mustafa al-Kadimi, “Iraq Protests Present Muslim Brotherhood With Opportunity,” Al Monitor, January 9, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/01/muslim-brotherhood-iraq.html. In 2012, the party congratulated the Egyptian Brotherhood on its rise to power, calling that group “our brothers in Egypt.”Joscelyne Cesari, The Awakening of Muslim Democracy: Religion, Modernity, and the State (New York, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014) 153, https://books.google.com/books?id=WgFeAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA153&lpg=PA153&dq=iraqi+islamic+party+1960&source=bl&ots=60eAi_YbNU&sig=X8BqsIWzbuzAEYjFbgrghrVD6Gg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi24r2un-rSAhXqxlQKHXtPDGY4ChDoAQg3MAY#v=onepage&q=iraqi%20islamic%20party%201960&f=false.

In 2014, the IIP reportedly lost some credibility among Iraqi Sunnis when IIP leaders allied with Shiite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.Renad Mansour, “The Sunni Predicament in Iraq,” Carnegie Endowment For International Peace, March 3, 2016, http://carnegieendowment.org/2016/03/03/sunni-predicament-in-iraq-pub-62924. Many Iraqi Sunnis reportedly saw the alignment as a political betrayal and even as a sign of corruption.Renad Mansour, “The Sunni Predicament in Iraq,” Carnegie Endowment For International Peace, March 3, 2016, http://carnegieendowment.org/2016/03/03/sunni-predicament-in-iraq-pub-62924. Today, several IIP-affiliated politicians hold leadership roles in the Iraqi government. IIP member Salim al-Jabouri, for example, is the speaker of the parliament. Another IIP member, Suhaib al-Rawi, served as governor of the Anbar province from December 2014 to August 2016.Renad Mansour, “The Sunni Predicament in Iraq,” Carnegie Endowment For International Peace, March 3, 2016, http://carnegieendowment.org/2016/03/03/sunni-predicament-in-iraq-pub-62924.

According to IIP spokesman Fareed Sabri, tensions between Iraqi Sunnis and the Shiite government have since heightened, in large part stemming from the dangers posed by ISIS in Iraq and the resulting human rights violations from Shiite militias Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Kata’ib Hezbollah, and the Badr Organization. Sabri attests that many Sunnis in Iraq are afraid of their Shiite-majority government: “This is the real irony – when people see ISIS [as] less harmful than the [Iraqi] government,” Sabri told Public Radio International.Matthew Bell, “Sunni Muslims in Iraq are caught between violent militants and violent government troops,” Public Radio International, June 17, 2014, http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-06-16/sunni-muslims-iraq-are-caught-between-violent-militants-and-violent-government. Though still holding the largest membership of any Sunni political party, the IIP has struggled to return to the forefront of Iraqi politics, in part due to the widespread perception of the party as anti-Shiite.Katherine Blue Carrol, “Not Your Parents’ Political Party: Young Sunnis and the New Iraqi Democracy,” Middle East Policy Council, Fall 2011, v.18, n.3, http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policy-archives/not-your-parents-political-party-young-sunnis-and-new-iraqi-democracy?print.

History

 

Designations by Governments and Organizations

For a complete list of countries and organizations that have designated the Muslim Brotherhood, please see the Muslim Brotherhood's full report

In Their Own Words