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2003-03-27

Shi’ites Warn US Troops Will Face Armed Resistance If They Occupy Iraq After Invasion, As Coalition Hopes of Uprising in Basra Evaporate

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The leader of Iraq’s main Shi’ite opposition group warned Washington yesterday that U.S. troops would face armed resistance if they occupy Iraq after the invasion.

The Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution (SCIRI) in Iraq is based in Tehran, Iran. Its leader, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir Hakim, said: "Iraqis are against foreign dominance, and if they (the Americans) don’t want to leave Iraq, the nation will resist." He said, "One of the legitimate ways of resistance against occupiers is force and weapons."

The SCIRI has some support from Iraq’s Muslim Shi’ite majority, particularly in the south of the country. Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir Hakim says he has tens of thousands of troops stationed outside Iraq as well as in the Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.

Meanwhile, in the South, coalition hopes of an uprising in Basra are evaporating, according to the Financial Times.

British intelligence reported an uprising had begun earlier this week. But the evidence has failed to materialize.

The majority of people in Basra are Shia Muslims. The main exiled Iraqi Shia organization yesterday said the Shia community had been instructed to remain neutral in the US-led invasion. The SCIRI said there did appear to have been trouble in the city, but played down the scale of the unrest.

  • Hadi Ghaemi, independent researcher and former professor of physics at the City University of New York. He is currently working on a book about the cultural revolution in Iran.
  • Andrew Cockburn, author of Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein.

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