Iraq's opposition leaders meet in Tehran

11 December 2002

The leaders of three Iraqi opposition parties have met in Tehran in an effort to settle some of their differences, AFP reported on 9 December. A series of bilateral meetings took place on 9 and 10 December between Masoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), and Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). The talks come ahead of a broader meeting of Iraqi forces opposed to President Saddam Hussein's rule to take place in London on 14 and 15 December, which has suffered delays because of disegreements among the various factions. The US is exerting pressure on the groups to find a degree of unity on the shape of a post-Saddam Iraq, in order to avoid the need for a prolonged US presence if Washington decides to take military action to remove the Iraqi president.

In another attempt to strengthen indigenous opposition to Saddam Hussein, President Bush on 7 December ordered the Pentagon to provide $92 million in military aid to opposition groups and on the same day formally designated six such groups as 'democratic opposition,' making them eligible for military aid. These are the Assyrian Democratic Movement; the Iraqi Free Officers & Civilians Movement; the Iraqi National Front; the Iraqi National Movement; the Iraqi Turkmen Front; and the Islamic Accord of Iraq. The others eligible are the INC, KDP and SCIRI, along with the Iraqi National Accord, the Movement for Constitutional Monarchy, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

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