Talabani, Jalal

(1933- )
   Jalal Talabani established the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in June 1975 and has been its secretary-general ever since. Along with his rival Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Talabani has long been one of the two main leaders of the Iraqi Kurds. Among the Kurds, Talabani is universally known as Man (Uncle) Jalal. He is married to Hero Talabani, the daughter of his political mentor Ibrahim Ahmed and a notable Kurdish figure in her own right.
   Jalal Talabani was born in Kelkan, a village near Lake Dukan in the Sorani area of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Talabani family itself goes back at least some 300 years. The Talabani sheikhs belonged to the Qadiri order and played an important religious and political role that no doubt helped young Jalal Talabani get his start.
   Talabani has been very active in politics all his life. When he was only 13 years old, he formed a secret Kurdish student association.
   The following year he became a member of the KDP and was elected to its central committee when he was only 18 years old. A graduate of the Baghdad law school, Talabani served in the Iraqi military as a tank commander in 1959 and also practiced journalism.
   As an associate of Ibrahim Ahmed in the KDP Politburo, Ta-labani had an off-again, on-again relationship with Mulla Mustafa Barzani. In time, Barzani came to characterize Talabani as "an agent for everybody," and Talabani played only a minor role during Bar-zani's last years. Following Barzani's final defeat in March 1975, Ta-labani founded the PUK and by 1977 had returned to Iraqi Kurdistan.
   Talabani's life then became interwoven with the Kurdish struggle in Iraqi Kurdistan and the policies of the PUK. As mentioned above, Mulla Mustafa Barzani's son, Massoud Barzani, and Talabani have long been the two main leaders of the Iraqi Kurds. Their relationship has been part of the KDP-PUK struggle for power among the Iraqi Kurds, intertwined with cooperation for the larger Iraqi Kurdish cause. Although it is, of course, more complicated than this, Talabani has been characterized as more modern and progressive than Barzani.
   Compared to Massoud Barzani, Jalal Talabani has been much more the world traveler and international negotiator. After Iraq's defeat in 1991, for example, Talabani broke ancient taboos and journeyed to Ankara to meet Turkish president Turgut Ozal. During the drawn-out talks with the Iraqi government in 1991, Saddam Hussein planted a hypocritical kiss on Talabani's surprised face. Jalal Talabani speaks English well and has visited the United States, Great Britain, Turkey, Syria, and Iran, among other countries, on numerous occasions. Many of his family members have long lived in Great Britain. Since he became the president of the KRG in 2005, however, Massoud Barzani has also become a much more frequent world traveler than he had been previously.
   Although Talabani holds a reputation as being mercurial and sometimes too clever for his own good, his championship of Kurdish nationalism, progressive development, and human rights, as well as experience, cannot be gainsaid and are virtually unique among contemporary Kurdish leaders. After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Talabani immediately became one of the most important Iraqi politicians and served on the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) along with Barzani. In April 2005 he became the interim president of Iraq and, on 22 April 2006, the permanent president. As such, Talabani became the first non-Arab to become the president of a majority-Arab state. Although this office held only limited powers and was second in authority to that of the prime minister, Talabani used the presidency very effectively to try to stabilize Iraq as a democratic, federal entity and broker the country's raging ethnic and sectarian conflicts. He also reached out successfully to foreign leaders. Whether his efforts will ultimately be successful, of course, remains to be seen.
   In August 2008, his office announced that he had successfully had heart surgery performed at the Mayo Clinic in the United States. Ta-labani also announced that he would retire at the end of this current presidential term in 2010, but then he reneged. His PUK did poorly in the parliamentary elections held on 25 July 2009, as Nawshirwan Mustafa's Gorran party made significant inroads upon the PUK's traditional base in Sulaymaniya. It remained to be seen if Talabani would be able to rebuild the PUK as he promised. His two sons, Bafel Talabani and Qubad Talabani, are assuming increasingly important roles in politics.

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Talabani, Jalal — ► (n. 1934) Político iraquí. Miembro del Partido Democrático del Kurdistán, en 1976 fundó la Unión Patriótica del Kurdistán. Desde 1991 su partido gobierna junto con el PDK la región kurda del norte de Irak. En 2005 fue elegido presidente de Irak …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Talabani — Talabani, Jalal …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Jalal Talabani — 6th President of Iraq Incumbent Assumed office 7 April 2005 Prime Minister …   Wikipedia

  • Jalal Talabani — Jalal Talabani, président irakien. Mandats 6e président de la République irakienne …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jalal Talabani — Dschalal Talabani Die irakische Polizei zeigt in Nadschaf Poster von Dschalal Talabani und …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Talabani, Hero —    Hero Talabani is the daughter of the late Ibrahim Ahmed and the wife of Jalal Talabani, the longtime leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and current president of Iraq. She has played an important political role in her own right… …   Historical Dictionary of the Kurds

  • Talabani, Qubad — (1977 )    The second son of Jalal Talabani and Hero Talabani, Qubad Talabani was born in Damascus, Syria, but grew up in Great Britain, where he originally studied automotive systems engineering at Kingston University in Surrey. In the early… …   Historical Dictionary of the Kurds

  • Mam Jalal —    See Talabani, Jalal …   Historical Dictionary of the Kurds

  • Yalal Talabani — Presidente de Irak …   Wikipedia Español

  • Celal Talabani — Dschalal Talabani Die irakische Polizei zeigt in Nadschaf Poster von Dschalal Talabani und …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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