Jalal Talabani

Jalal Talabani is the sixth and current President of Iraq, a leading Kurdish politician.

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Country of ResidenceIraq
Date of Birth1933-11-12
EthnicityKurdish people
GenderMale
NationalityIraq
Place Of BirthKelkan
ReligionIslam
ReligionSunni Islam
TitleHead of State

Jalal Talabani (Kurdish: جەلال تاڵەبانی Celal Tallebanî, Arabic: جلال طالباني‎ Jalāl Ṭālabānī; born November 12, 1933) is the sixth and current President of Iraq, a leading Kurdish politician. He is the first non-Arab president of Iraq, although Abdul Kareem Qasim was of partial Kurdish heritage.[3]

Talabani is the founder and secretary general of one of the main Kurdish political parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). He was a prominent member of the Interim Iraq Governing Council, which was established following the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime by the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Talabani has been an advocate for Kurdish rights and democracy in Iraq for more than 50 years.

Early life

Talabani was born in 1933 in Talaban Village and descends from the Talabani tribe that has produced many leading social figures[citation needed]. He received his elementary and intermediate school education in Koya (Koysanjak) and his high school education in Erbil and Kirkuk. In the late 1950s Mustafa Barzani sent him to Syria to study law. He is fluent in Kurdish and Arabic and has working knowledge in Persian with Kurdish accent and English. His youngest son, Qubad, is the representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government in the United States. Talabani is a member of the Socialist International.[4]

Career

Rights for Kurds

When in September 1961, the Kurdish revolution for the rights of the Kurds in Western Iraq was declared against the Baghdad government of Abdul Karim Qassem, Talabani took charge of the Kirkuk and Silemani battle fronts and organized and led separatist movements in Mawat, Rezan and the Karadagh regions. In March 1962, he led a coordinated offensive that brought about the liberation of the district of Sharbazher from Iraqi government forces. When not engaged in fighting in the early and mid 1960s, Talabani undertook numerous diplomatic missions, representing the Kurdish leadership at meetings in Europe and the Middle East.



Jalal Talabani with President Barack Obama during a visit to Camp Victory, Iraq, April 7, 2009.

The Kurdish separatist movement collapsed in March 1975 after Iran ended their support in exchange for a border agreement with Iraq. This agreement was the 1975 Algiers Agreement, where Iraq gave up claims to the Shatt al-Arab(Arvand Rūd) waterway and Khuzestan, which later became the basis for the Iran-Iraq war. Believing it was time to give a new direction to the Kurdish separatists and to the Kurdish society, Talabani, with a group of Kurdish intellectuals and activists, founded the Kurdish Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (Yekiaiti Nishtimani Kurdistan). In 1976, he began organizing an armed campaign for Kurdish independence inside Iraq. During the 1980s, Talabani sided with Iran and led a Kurdish struggle from bases inside Iraq until the crackdown against Kurdish separatists from 1987 to 1988.

In 1991, he helped inspire a renewed effort for Kurdish independence. He negotiated a ceasefire with the Iraqi Ba'athist government that saved the lives of many Kurds and worked closely with the United States, UK, France and other countries to set up the safe haven in Iraqi Kurdistan. In 1992 the Kurdistan Regional Government was founded. Talabani has pursued a negotiated settlement to the internecine problems plaguing the Kurdish movement, as well as the larger issue of Kurdish rights in the current regional context. He works closely with other Kurdish politicians as well as the rest of the Iraqi opposition factions. In close coordination with Massoud Barzani, Talabani and the Kurds played a key role as a partner of the US-Coalition in the invasion of Iraq. Talabani was a member of the Iraqi Governing Council that negotiated the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL), Iraq's interim constitution. The TAL governed all politics in Iraq and the process of writing and adopting the final constitution.

Presidency



Talabani and Vice President Joe Biden

Talabani was elected President of Iraq on April 6, 2005 by the Iraqi National Assembly and sworn in to office the following day. On April 22, 2006, Talabani began his second term as President of Iraq, becoming the first President elected under the country's new Constitution. Currently, his office is part of the Presidency Council of Iraq. Nawshirwan Mustafa was Talabani's deputy until Mustafa resigned in 2006 and formed a media company called Wusha. Talabani visited the Cambridge Union Society UK, on 11 May 2007.[5] The visit itself was organized by the then President of Cambridge Union Society, Ali Al-Ansari. In an interview, during the visit, Jalal Talabani described Tony Blair as a 'hero' for helping secure Iraq's freedom.[6] He was reelected by the Parliament for a new term on 11 November 2010.[7]