The Shiite Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) is the largest organisation of armed Iraqis. It consists mainly of Iraqi refugees, including a large number of Marsh Arabs. The SCIRI has enjoyed the support of, and been based in, Iran since Iraqi President Saddam Hussein initiated a campaign of systematic suppression against the Iraqi Shiite population following a failed uprising in 1991. It has served as a crucial umbrella organisation for the disparate groups united against Saddam’s largely Sunni administration. Sporadic cross-border attacks by the SCIRI on government targets have been disruptive, but, so far, they have failed to damage the regime fundamentally.
Following the collapse of the regime of President Saddam Hussein on 11 May 2003 SCIRI evolved from an underground guerrilla organisation into a potent political force. SCIRI’s exiled leader, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim’s return from Iran on the 10 May 2003 was hailed by thousands of Shiites, and the groundswell of support within the majority Shia community provides an indication of their potential future power within Iraq. SCIRI appears to have the religious tone to attract the Shia faithful to their banner, but it is debatable whether they have the political acumen to sustain their current popularity and dominate future Shiite politics. Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 the conflict between the government of Iraq and SCIRI has ceased. Iraq’s Shia population are now playing a comprehensive role in the new government.