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Iraqi National Congress {INC}

The Iraqi National Congress (INC) was formed when the two main Kurdish militias-the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) headed by Masud Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) headed by Jalal Talabani-decided to participate in a June 1992 meeting in Vienna of nearly 200 delegates from dozens of opposition groups. In October 1992, the major Shiite groups came into the coalition and the INC held a pivotal meeting in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, choosing a three man Leadership Council and 26 member executive council. The three leaders include moderate Shiite Muslim cleric Muhammad Bahr al-Ulum; ex-Iraqi general Hasan Naqib; and Masud Barzani. Although Bahr al-Ulum did not represent the more influential radical Shiite fundamentalists in the opposition, his selection was perceived as more palatable to the United States than the appointment of a fundamentalist. Selected to chair the executive council was Ahmad Chalabi, a secular Iraqi Shiite Muslim and mathematician by training, who previously was chairman of the Petra Bank in Jordan. The INC represented the first major attempt by opponents of Saddam to join forces, bringing together not only Sunni and Shiite Arabs (both Islamic fundamentalist and secular) and Kurds, but also varying political stripes including democrats, nationalists, ex- military officers, and others.

The INC has been plagued by the dissociation of many of its constituent groups from the INC umbrella, a cutoff of funds from its international backers (including the United States), and continued pressure from Iraqi intelligence services.

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Updated Saturday, August 08, 1998 7:35:41 AM