Iraq’s Islamic official calls for autonomous Shia region

February 27th, 2008 - 10:46 pm ICT by admin  

Baghdad, Feb 27 (DPA) A senior official of the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq Ammar al-Hakim Wednesday called for the creation of an autonomous Shia region to help quell the ethnic conflict in Iraq. “We strongly believe in the efficiency and significance of founding the autonomous region,” al-Hakim said ahead of the Shiite religious gathering to commemorate Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Muslim prophet Mohammed, in Karbala, some 100 km south of Baghdad.

He added: “It (an autonomous region) will surely help in solving many security, political and social problems in Iraq, in addition to balancing the administration in the country.”

Al-Hakim urged Shias to seriously consider the idea, describing it as “vital and sensitive while planning the future of Iraq”.

Iraq’s Shia leaders have since the US-led invasion in 2003 been calling for the implementation of an article in the constitution that allows for the establishment of independent regions within the country.

The region they have mapped out for Shias covers the southern cities of Nasseriya, Amarah and Najaf and other areas in southern Baghdad, such as Diwaniyah, Samawa and Kut.

The Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq, previously known as the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, was established in 1982 in Iran but was moved to Iraq after the US invasion in 2003.

It is currently a major Shia group in Iraq - headed by al-Hakim’s father, Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim - and is supported by the highest religious authority in the country and falls under the umbrella of the United Iraqi Alliance, a Shia coalition with more than 85 seats in parliament.

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