Five facts about Iraqi President Jalal Talabani

Here are some facts about Jalal Talabani after Iraq’s main factions agreed on the top three political posts, following an eight-month deadlock after elections.

By (Reuters)

Published: Thu 11 Nov 2010, 4:48 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:10 AM

Lawmakers have said that Talabani, a Kurd, would return as president.

· Talabani was born near Arbil in northern Iraq in 1933 and became a lieutenant to Mullah Mustafa Barzani, patriarch of Iraqi Kurdish nationalism and founder of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which is now led by Barzani’s son Masoud. Talabani joined the KDP at the age of 13 and by 1958 was a lawyer and an inner member of the party.

· Talabani split from the KDP in 1974 and formed the PUK in Damascus the following year. A bitter rivalry with the Barzanis followed and led to alliances with neighbouring Iran, Turkey and even Saddam Hussein. With Saddam weakened after the 1991 Gulf War, the Kurds carved out an autonomous zone in northeastern Iraq but Talabani and Barzani disputed control of a Kurdish regional government and fought a bitter civil war.

· Talabani became a key player in post-war Iraqi politics after the Kurds, who had managed to make peace, formed a powerful voting bloc in the Iraqi legislature. Talabani became Iraq’s first elected president in more than 50 years in April 2005 and was selected for a second term by parliament in April 2006 as a national unity government was put together.

· Talabani’s power base has been threatened by the desertion of a former lieutenant, Noshirwan Mustafa, who established the Change List, or “Goran”, which made a strong showing in Kurdish elections in 2009. The top complaint of many Kurds is corruption.

· Talabani had said in April that minority Kurds could be expected to join the country’s main Shi’ite blocs if they united to form the next government following inconclusive elections in March 2010. Kurdish support gave Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki the muscle he needed to persuade former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to join a new government led by him. Allawi’s cross-sectarian Iraqiya alliance won the most seats in the March vote after gaining the broad backing of Iraq’s Sunni minority.

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