In a press conference in Tehran, head of the Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite party SCIRI dismissed US charges that Iran was interfering in Iraq, but said Iraq will not have an Iranian style Islamic Republic. July 12, 2004 – “In Iraq we have the death penalty, and a lot of crimes committed by Saddam Hussein merit the death penalty,” the leader of the Iranian-backed Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), Ayatollah Abdel-Aziz Hakim said on Monday in a press conference in Tehran.
“Saddam committed many crimes, one of the most important of which is the attack against Iran which killed hundreds of thousands of Iranians and Iraqis,” Hakim added, speaking of the Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran, which lasted eight years and took more than one million lives, and involved chemical weapons.
Hakim, who met with Islamic government authorities, including the Supreme Leader, during his Tehran visit, said Iraq will not have an Iranian-style Islamic Republic.
He described the relationship between the Kurds and Shiites as very good and he said he did have a problem with a federal system for Iraq if it could help Iraq and the Kurds.
Hakim dismissed the US and Israeli intelligence organizations’ allegations that the Islamic Republic was interferring in Iraq. “Iran has made no negative interference in Iraq,” he said. "It is not the first time these accusations have been made, but Iran has always stood by the side of the Iraqi people.”
"The security situation is improving in Iraq and the Iraqi government has decided to act against terrorist groups," the SCIRI leader said, referring to Iraqi and foreign insurgents.
“The transfer of sovereignty is real and true. We think that this has been a very important step to total independence," he said, referring to the June 28 transfer of power that formally ended the occupation of Iraq by US-led coalition.
He said it was up to the Iraqi government to decide the fate of the Iraq-based anti-regime armed group the Mojehedin Khalq Oraganization of Iran (MKO). “The Governing Council had decided to oust the group from Iraq in pursuit of ridding Iraq of terrorism,” he said, adding that the fact that UN does not recognize MKO members as refugees has created problems.
For the time being, he said, Iraqi Prime Minister Ilad Allawi has decided that MKO members should not engage in any political or cultural activity, and remain in their camps, so long as they are still in Iraq.
Hakim said that the SCIRI was not looking forward to an official recognition of Israel, but he left that decision to the future Iraqi government.
After the 1979 revolution, Abdul-Aziz Hakim and his brother Bagher Hakim, along with Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi immigrated to Iran, and expanded SCIRI with the support of the Islamic government. Shahroudi, who was the head of SCIRI, later became the head of the Islamic regime’s judiciary. Mohammad-Baqer and Abdul-Aziz Hakim returned to Iraq after the ouster of Saddam Hussein, and joined the governing council. Mohammad-Baqer was killed last year in Najaf in a bomb attack blamed on al-Qaeda.