Who Speaks for Iraqi Sunni Arabs?

 

Largest Sunni Political Party Founded as Muslim Brotherhood Branch in 1960

(New York, NY) – As Iraqis continue to suffer under the strains of sectarian violence, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) today released a new resource on the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP), the largest Sunni Islamist party in Iraq.

The IIP was founded in 1960 as the Iraqi branch of the Muslim Brotherhood by Shaykh Muhammad Mahmud al-Sawwaf and Shaykh Amjad al-Zahawi, but was banned and driven underground almost immediately by Iraqi nationalists. While it was granted nominal freedoms in 1993, it remained outlawed as a political party under the regime of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, only resurfacing after Hussein’s fall from power in 2003.

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. In the first post-Hussain elections in 2005, the IIP won 15 percent of the seats in the new Iraqi parliament. In May 2005, IIP Spokesman Fareed Sabri said: “Yes, (turning Iraq into an Islamic State) was indeed the core objective (of the IIP). It is an objective that is an applicable today as it was in 1960. The party wants Iraq to adopt Islam as a way of life.” In 2012, the IIP congratulated the Egyptian Brotherhood on its rise to power, calling that group “our brothers in Egypt.”

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