After a difficult parturition, and postponement after another, the Iraqi parliament chose Barham Saleh as president of the Republic of Iraq. The voting session was preceded by stormy negotiations between the political forces, especially between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), its winning candidate Barham Saleh and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and its candidate Fuad Hussein. Saleh’s victory in the second round of secret ballot came with a big margin over his rival, Fouad Hussein, a candidate for the Democratic Party.
The following is an overview of Barham Saleh
Barham Saleh was born in Sulaymaniyah in the Iraqi Kurdistan region in 1960 in a well-educated and a fairly wealthy family. His father was a judge in the Sulaymaniyah courts before his exile and his family to Nasiriya in southern Iraq because of his anti-Baathist political positions after the defeat of Kurdish uprising led by the late Kurdish leader Mullah Mustafa Barzani in 1975. Barham Saleh is married to Dr. Sarbag Salih, chair of the Society for Plant Diversity in the Region and an activist in the defense of women’s rights, they have to sons, a male and female.
Bachelor of Civil and Structural Engineering, Cardiff University, UK.
Received a Ph.D. in Statistics and Probabilistic Theory in Marine Engineering, 1987, University of Liverpool, UK.
He worked as a consultant engineer in international companies in Britain between 1987 and 1991.
He joined the ranks of the secret organizations of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in late 1976 and was arrested by the former regime in 1979 in the Special Investigation Commission in Kirkuk and again in the Military Intelligence in Sulaymaniyah. He was tortured in Kirkuk City Prison for taking pictures of anti-government demonstrations in the city.
He became a member of the European organizations of the Kurdistan National Union and was responsible for the Foreign Relations Office of the Union in London, and was elected a member of the leadership of the Union at its first conference in 1992.
Was appointed by Jalal Talabani, Secretary General of the Kurdistan National Union, as Deputy Secretary General of the Union and re-elected to this site at the third conference of the Union on the recommendation of Talabani.
He worked actively in the Iraqi opposition and participated in many conferences and events.
Founded in 2018 stream “Alliance for Democracy and Justice”.
It was agreed to resume his political work within the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.
Barham Saleh assumed the presidency of the Kurdistan Regional Government – Sulaymaniyah administration for the period from 2001 to mid 2004, and achieved many achievements in various fields. His administration witnessed an unprecedented state of reconstruction, prosperity, security and political stability. He was the first president to allocate fixed monthly salaries to unemployed graduated young.
In the aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, Barham Saleh returned to Iraq and assumed the post of Minister of Planning in the Transitional Government in 2005. He also served as Deputy Prime Minister in the first government of Nuri al-Maliki in 2006. He played a pivotal role in bridging the rift in his party’s relations with the Democratic Party , addressing the effects of internal fighting between them over the years, and the reunification of the administrations of the territorial government in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah in 2006, which was divided by the fighting.
Took over the presidency of the Kurdistan Regional Government for the period of 2009 – 2011. The region witnessed a period of economic recovery and unique construction and investment projects, which developed the region a lot in various fields and witnessed a significant increase in the standard of living of the population of the region in general.
Scientific and Cultural Achievements:
Barham Salih established the American University in Sulaymaniyah in 2008 and made it a non-profit institution that provides higher education with nominal fees to outstanding students throughout Iraq, without exception or discrimination, and continues to serve as the chairman of the board of trustees of the University .
Barham Saleh launched several economic and investment programs in the fields of education, health, reconstruction and public services in the Kurdistan region, the most prominent of which is the fellowship program for students of the region in the world recognized universities.
He was the chairman of authority of the trustees of the Iraqi Forum , a meeting of Iraqi democracy , including national figures and dignities of the segments of the Iraqi people and the Forum is organized by Wa’adoun and the Hiywa Project to support outstanding students in Iraqi universities in Baghdad, southern Iraq and Kurdistan.
Barham Saleh launched the initiative of the International Compact with Iraq to ensure international commitments with the countries of the world and help the country in the economic, security and political aspects.
Barham Saleh’s position from the political crisis that broke out between the Kurdistan region and the federal government in Baghdad against the background of the referendum
This crisis revealed his national position of a unified Iraq that gave this enlightened political figure a presence in the Kurdistan region and Baghdad and the regional and international countries. His vision focused on solving this crisis on two levels: First, the solution must be within the Kurdish society, and to ensure the unity of Kurdish ranks and not to accept the transfer of errors that accompanied the recent decisions in Kurdistan to the disaster of internal conflict and fighting and the conflict between the armed Kurdish factions. The second level: the Kurds engage in an open dialogue with Baghdad. He saw any solution based on the Kurdish schism that remained anxious and unproductive. The internal Kurdish unity based on reviewing the decision-making process and removing patronage and corruption and restoring the confidence of the Kurdish citizen to the government is the first entrance to any solution. He called for the formation of a transitional government in the Kurdistan region of Iraq capable of overcoming the problems resulting from the referendum. , and be legitimate and gains the confidence of the Kurdish citizen and it is responsible for conducting dialogue with Baghdad. This requires the agreement of the political forces, far from the party sensitivities, the primacy of the logic of the national interest on the interests of parties and families, and requires not to be dragged to the side arguments and sterile debates; it is required to correct mistakes and lack of perseverance about the consequences of the referendum. Courage is not the adventure of people’s lives and livelihoods, but requires self-revision and move towards the desired solution in Baghdad, based on the Constitution.
Barham Saleh enjoys wide political and international relations and his ability to open up to various intellectual and religious currents, and has a significant presence in the media circles inside and outside the country with a political , mature and open vision to everyone and his faith in democratic values and economic liberalism . He has good political relations with Tehran, Ankara, Washington, the United Kingdom, Arab countries, and most importantly with other political forces in Baghdad. Even his friends say that no one after Talabani among the Kurds has a vast network of regional and international diplomatic relations as much as Barham Saleh. These relations of Mr. Barham Saleh may encourage countries to bring foreign investment, and this would support the Iraqi economy.
During his political career, Barham Salih reminds the Iraqis and through his Arabic language, which is very sound with a southern dialect, that he is an Iraqi like the Iraqis of Basra, Najaf, Anbar or Diyala, and that he is the son of Baghdad which was exchanged for love feelings , just like he is the son of Sulaymaniyah .the most importantly is his positions in the Iraqi government, on its importance, have not built a barrier between him and the people, whether in the Kurdistan region, or in Baghdad and other Iraqi provinces.
The bottom line is that there are two types of political and partisan figures, the first who seek with every effort and do not miss any opportunistic means to reach power or hold a ministerial position. In this case, he runs towards the spoils of the political post, while the second type of political figures , they do not seek positions and don’t devote their work to access them to benefit from its privileges, but most importantly is seeking the promotion of the homeland, these types of personalities, find the ruling and political position is running towards them , and this is exactly consistent with the political , intellectual character , Barham Saleh.
Iraqi Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies