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Jalal Talabani

President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, was born in 1933. Talabani started his political career at the age of 13 as a founding member of the Kurdistan Students' Association and then at the age of 14 joined the Kurdistan Democratic Party [KDP] in 1947. Talabani was chosen in 1951 as a member of the KDP's central committee. He obtained his BA in law in 1959 from University of Baghdad, and was Chief editor of two local Kurdish newspapers in the late 1950s. Talabani pParticipated in the Kurdish revolution against former president Abd-al-Karim Qasim and rose in the ranks of the Kurdish peshmerga from 1960-1964. He was head of the Kurdish delegation to the 1963 talks with the Iraqi Government under the reign of Abd al-Salam Arif. Talabani defected from the KDP in 1964 as a result of differences with KDP's leader Mustafa Barzani.

In 1966 Talabani and a number of former KDP members allied with the central government to launch a military campaign against the KDP. Talabani co-founded the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan [PUK] in 1975, a secular and socialist entity which is currently believed to have around 25,000 fighters. In 1976 the PUK began military action against the central government. Talabani responded to a call by former president Saddam Hussein to begin peace talks in the midst of the in the Iran-Iraq War, which ended up being unsuccessful.

Talabani fled to Iran in 1988 following the chemical attack launched by the Iraqi Government against the Kurds. The KDP and PUK had various conflicts and truces in the aftermath of Persian Gulf War of 1991and during the period of a enforced No-Fly Zone over Iraqi Kurdistan. In 1998 the KDP and PUK came to sign a peace treaty in Washington following extensive US and British mediation.

After the fall of Baghdad in March 2003, Talabani became a member of the Iraqi Governing Council. Talabani is said to have "very friendly" relations with grand Shiite figure Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. Talabani has maintained that the multinational forces should remain in Iraq as any premature pullback would lead to "a disaster." Talabani has called for allowing armed groups to become involved in the political process.

Talabani was elected President of Iraq' on April 6 2005, but expressed dissatisfaction with his presidential powers and demanded more Talabani calls for federalism in Iraq. Talabani is known to support democracy, inter-ethnic harmony, equality and women's rights. Talabani is known for his stance against the death penalty.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:50:35 ZULU