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Rivers of Babylon

The head of Iraq's leading Shia dynasty has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. His young son wants to take his place, but the knives are now coming out

By Nibras Kazimi   July 2007

Fathers and heirs

A couple of years ago I asked Ammar al-Hakim whether his father was still chain-smoking those pungent Iranian-made Bahman cigarettes. “No, we got him smoking Kingston now,” he said with some relief. The elder al-Hakim, Abdel-Aziz, 57, head of the newly renamed Supreme Council of Iraq (which dropped the ominously sounding “Islamic Revolution” from its title a few weeks ago) and leader of the United Iraqi Alliance, Iraq’s Shia parliamentary bloc, has just been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Baghdad is abuzz with news and rumours of succession and political confusion.

Abdel-Aziz Hakim used to serve…

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