Islamic Movement of Kurdistan
- (IMK)Founded in 1979, the IMK is a confederation of a number of small Kurdish Islamic groups in northern Iraq, such as the Hizbullah of Kurdistan led by Sheikh Muhammad Khalid Barzani (son of Sheikh Ahmad Barzani and thus the cousin of Massoud Barzani) and the Kurdistan Union of Clergy led by Mulla Hamdi of Sirsank. Its main support has come from in and around the city of Halabja. In 1992, the IMK contested the elections for a Kurdistan parliament and government called for by the Iraqi Kurdistan Front.In these unique elections, the IMK came in a distant third behind the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The IMK received only 5.1 percent of the vote for parliament and thus failed to meet the 7 percent required to receive any representation. Its leader Sheikh Osman Abdul Aziz also ran a very distant third to Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani for the position of supreme leader (president), receiving about 4 percent of the vote. The IMK was weakest in the more conservative and tribal areas of the Dohuk and Irbil governorates where the conservative alternative KDP was dominant and was strongest in the more developed Sulaymaniya where the more progressive PUK prevailedIn December 1993, fierce clashes broke out between the IMK and the PUK around Sheikh Osman Aziz's hometown of Halabja. This bloodshed proved to be a harbinger of the larger struggle between the KDP and the PUK that raged off and on between 1994 and 1998.During this larger struggle, the IMK acted at times as an ally of the KDP and solidified its position in a large area around the towns of Halabja, Panjwin, and Khurmal. Iran gave the IMK strong support.Aziz declared that his aim was to establish an Islamic state in northern Iraq similar to the one in Iran and then move on to create a pan-Kurdish Islamic state. He tended to benefit from the mistakes and corruption of the KDP and PUK. Aziz also was one of six Kurds chosen for membership on the executive council of the opposition Iraqi National Congress (INC) in its meeting in Salah al-Din in late October 1992. Following his death in 1999, Aziz was succeeded by his brother Mulla Ali Abdul Aziz as the leader of the IMK. In 2000, Islamists won almost 20 percent of the seats on several student councils, elections that were viewed as good predictors of relative party strength. Islamists also controlled the Ministry of Justice in both the KDP and PUK administrations. In March 2009, Mulla Sadiq Abdul Aziz reportedly became the new leader of the IMK succeeding Mulla Mohammed Omar.In the early 2000s, such violent Islamic groups as Ansar al-Islam appeared. However, since 2003, new Islamic groups such as the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), led by Salahadin Bahaddin, and the Islamic Group in Kurdistan, led by Ali Bapir, also have emerged. They have pursued varying strategies in regards to cooperation with the two leading Iraqi Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). In the KRG elections of 25 July 2009, the Service and Reform List of two small leftist parties and these two Islamic parties garnered almost 13 percent of the vote and gained 13 seats in the new KRG parliament consisting of 111 total seats. The IMK won two seats. In the Iraqi national election of 7 March 2010, the KIU won 4 seats, while the Islamic Group in Kurdistan took 2 seats. The KDP-PUK list won 43 seats and the Gorran list captured 8 seats.
Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. Michael M. Gunter.
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