Iraqi Opposition Groups
In the war planning after September 11, the Bush administration partnered with opposition groups in and out of Afghanistan in hopes of unseating the ruling Taliban. The strategy worked, with Northern Alliance and coalition forces rolling into Kabul and Kandahar less than two months after the first U.S. airstrikes.
Today, some speculate the White House is aiming for a repeat performance in Iraq. White House officials met with leaders of six Iraqi opposition groups in August, hoping to develop a sense of unity and cooperation that could expedite the downfall of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
But the situation in Iraq is far different than in Afghanistan. There is no Iraqi equivalent to Mohammed Zahir Shah, the former Afghan monarch seen as a unifying figure following the fall of the Taliban. Some U.S. officials have accused the top anti-Saddam group, the Iraq National Congress, of being outsiders who would have difficulty waging a successful military campaign. Two of the most militarily potent opposition groups, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Kurdish Democratic Party, have been fierce rivals until recently and are thought to be skeptical about U.S. support after failed rebellions in 1991 and 1996.
Click on the acronyms below for brief descriptions of some of the most prominent anti-Saddam groups.