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Governance and the Shiite Political Movement in Iraq

Author: ALEXANDER R. DAWOODY
Published in PAM, Vol. 10 No. 1

Shortly after the death of prophet Muhammad in 632, the Shiite
movement in Islam began and found an encouraging political climate to
promote its growth and continuation as an opposition force to the successive
political entities in the region of the Middle East. In Iraq, the Shiite political
movement gained significance shortly after the creation of the modern state of
Iraq in 1920 by the British colonial power. Although it was effective in its
impact on the populace, the movement failed to gain a significant role in the
making of the Iraqi political dynamics. The importance of the Shiite political
movement in Iraq, however, changed after the collapse of the Iraqi Baath
Party regime in 2003. This movement has emerged as a viable force in the
construction of post-war Iraq and in the contribution to the progress of U.S.
policy toward Iraq. This paper presents the historical development of Shiism
in Islam as a whole and the trajectory of Shiism in contemporary Iraq as an
opposition political movement in particular. In doing so, the paper uncovers
several myths surrounding this movement that enabled it to become a
sustained phenomenon in Iraqi history and political narrative.

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