By: Daniel M. Zucker
When Saddam Hussein went after the Shiite marsh Arabs in 1991, following the First Gulf War, Iran opened its borders and allowed their fellow Shiite Iraqis to find safe haven. Iran also began to support these Iraqis and through providing social services indoctrinated them in its fundamentalist approach to Islam. The roots of a Khomeini type of Islamic outlook were planted in the Shia Iraqis living in Iran at that point. Leaders were cultivated and organizations like the Supreme Islamic Council for the Revolution in Iraq (SICRI), led by Ayatollah Bakir Al Hakim, were encouraged and supported. As long as Saddam remained in power, the Iranians bided their time, content to cause Saddam an occasional headache. But once their old nemesis was neutralized, the ayatollahs saw that they had a perfect opportunity to fill the vacuum. Iran also has given support and encouragement to Muqtada al Sadr, leader of the 'al-Mahdi Army", another Shiite resistance group in Iraq.