The body of Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim the leader of Iraq’s largest Shi’ite political grouping begins its journey from Iran to Iraq following his death yesterday in Tehran from lung cancer.
His passing raises questions about who will fill the considerable void at the heart of Iraq’s Shi’ite coalition as elections loom in January. Hammed al-Turaifee said: “Everyone agrees that his death will alter the political environment. He was an influential figure in Iraqi politics, his death will have a negative effect on the whole process.” Al-Hakim is described as the ultimate middleman forming alliances with both Shi’ites in Iran and the US in Iraq as well as heading the Supreme Iraqi Council, a union of diverse Shi’ite factions. A lot depends on the role of al-Hakim’s son who looks set take on his father’s job. It will be a severe test for Ammar al-Hakim to keep the council together as it contains some big players, particulary the anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr who heads the Mahdi army.