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Nouri Kamil Mohammed Hasan al-Maliki (Arabic: نوري كامل محمّد حسن المالكي, transliterated Nūrī Kāmil al-Mālikī; born June 20, 1950), also known as Jawad al-Maliki or Abu Esraa, is the Prime Minister of Iraq and the secretary-general of the Islamic Dawa Party. Al-Maliki and his government also succeeded the Iraqi Transitional Government. His 37-member Cabinet was approved by the National Assembly and sworn in on May 20, 2006.

He is married to Fareeha Khalil, and has four daughters and two sons. He started in politics as a Shia dissident under Saddam Hussein's regime in the 1970s and rose to prominence after he fled a death sentence into exile more than 20 years ago. During his time abroad he became a senior leader of Dawa, coordinated the activities of anti-Saddam guerillas and built relationships with Iranian and Syrian officials whose help he sought in overthrowing Hussein.

Al-Maliki's constitutional mandate will last until 2010. On April 26, 2006, al-Maliki stopped using the pseudonym Jawad. However the pseudo- or code name "Abu Esraa" (father of Esraa - his eldest daughter) is still heard on Iraqi satellite media every now and then, because it is very common in Arabic culture (and in Iraqi culture in particular) to call someone with his eldest son/daughter's name especially by his close friends and followers.

Early life

In 1950 Nouri Kamel al-Maliki was born in Abu Gharaq, a central Iraqi town lying between Karbalamarker and Al Hillahmarker. He attended school in Al Hindiyah (Hindiyamarker). Al-Maliki received a bachelor's degree at Usul al-Din College in Baghdadmarker, and a master's degree in Arabic literature from Baghdad University. Al-Maliki lived for a time in Al Hillahmarker, where he worked in the education department. He joined the Islamic Dawa Party in the late 1960s while studying at university.

Al-Maliki's grandfather, Muhammad Hasan Abi al-Mahasin, was a poet and cleric who served as Iraq's Minister of Education under King Faisal I.

Exile and return to Iraq

In 1979 al-Malki fled Iraq after hearing the government of Saddam Hussein planned to execute him. He was sentenced to death in absentia in 1980. According to a brief biography on the Islamic Dawa Party's website, he left Iraq via Jordanmarker in October 1979 and soon moved to Syriamarker, adopting the pseudonym "Jawad." He left Syria for Iranmarker in 1982, where he lived until 1990, mostly in Tehranmarker, before returning to Damascus where he remained until the 2003 US invasion toppled Hussein. In Syria he worked as a political officer for Dawa, developing close ties with Hezbollah and particularly with Iranmarker, supporting that country's effort to topple Saddam Hussein's regime. From Syria, he also directed the efforts of Dawa guerillas to topple Hussein throughout the 1990s.

While in Damascusmarker he edited the party newspaper Al-Mawqif and rose to head the party's Damascus branch. In 1990 he joined the Joint Action Committee and served as one of its rotating chairman. The committee was a Damascus-based opposition coalition for a number of Hussein's opponents. The efforts of the now-defunct Joint Action Committee helped lead to the founding of the Iraqi National Congress in 1991, a group of Iraqi exiles dedicated to ousting Hussein that came to rely heavily on United Statesmarker funding. The Dawa Party participated in the congress between 1992 and 1995, withdrawing because of disagreements with Kurdish parties over how Iraq should be governed after Hussein's eventual ouster.

Returning home after Saddam's fall, he became the deputy leader of the Supreme National Debaathification Commission of the Iraqi Interim Government, formed to purge former Baath Party officials from the military and government.

Al-Maliki was elected to the transitional National Assembly in January 2005. He was considered a tough negotiator in drawn-out deliberations over the new constitution, and was the senior Shi'ite member of the committee that drafted the new constitution that was passed in October 2005.

Prime Minister nomination

In the December 2005 parliamentary elections, the United Iraqi Alliance won the plurality of seats, and nominated Ibrahim al-Jaafari to be Iraq's first full-term post-war prime minister. In April 2006, amid mounting criticism of ineffective leadership and favoritism by Kurdish and Sunni Arab politicians in parliament, he was forced from power. On April 22, 2006, al-Maliki was named prime minister.

al-Maliki and Jaafari both belonged to Dawa, but the US favored al-Malki because it felt that Jaafari was closer to Iraq's neighbor—and US rival—Iran than al-Malki. United States Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad said that "[Maliki's] reputation is as someone who is independent of Iran." Khalilzad also maintained that Iran "pressured everyone for Jaafari to stay."

On May 20, 2006, al-Maliki presented his Cabinet to Parliament, minus permanent ministers of Defense and of Interior. He announced that he would temporarily handle the Interior Ministry himself, and Salam al-Zobaie would temporarily act as Defense Minister. "We pray to God almighty to give us strength so we can meet the ambitious goals of our people who have suffered a lot," al-Maliki told the members of the assembly.

In May 2007 he was elected as Secretary-General of the Dawa Party, succeeding Jaafari.

In Office

As Prime Minister, al-Maliki has vowed to crack down on insurgents which he calls "organized armed groups who are acting outside the state and outside the law." He had been criticized for taking too long to name permanent Interior and Defense ministers, which he did on June 8, 2006, just as al-Maliki and the Americans announced the killing of Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Meanwhile, al-Maliki criticized coalition armed forces as reports of allegedly deliberate killings of Iraqi civilians (at Haditha and elsewhere) became known. He has been quoted as saying, "[t]his is a phenomenon that has become common among many of the multinational forces. No respect for citizens, smashing civilian cars and killing on a suspicion or a hunch. It's unacceptable." According to Ambassador Khalilzad, al-Maliki had been misquoted, but it was unclear in what way.

On December 30, 2006, al-Maliki signed the death warrant of Saddam Hussein and declined a stay of execution, saying there would be “no review or delay” in the event. Citing the wishes of relatives of Hussein's victims, he said, “Our respect for human rights requires us to execute him.” Hussein's execution was carried out on December 30, 2006 (notably, the first Muslim day of the feast of Eid ul-Adha).

After only two years, as of late 2008, the al-Malki government has witnessed improvements in the security situation in many parts of the country. In Baghdad, a peace deal signed between Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and the government had eased tensions, though sporadic sectarian incidents continued, as did occasional fighting between US forces and Shiite militiamen, particularly in Sadr Citymarker.

Maliki's job was complicated by the balance of power within parliament, with his position relying on the support of two Shiite blocs, Sadr's and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, that his Dawa party has often been at odds with. Progress has also frequently been blocked by Sunni Arab politicians who allege that the dominant Shiite parties are pursuing sectarian advantage.

Maliki has had some success in finding compromise. In July 2008 al-Maliki, who earlier in the year fought off a recall effort in parliament, convinced Sunni politicians to end a year-long boycott of the chamber and appointed some of them to cabinet positions. Analysts said the return of the Sunnis was made possible by the security gains under al-Maliki and by apparent progress in negotiations with the US over American military withdrawal.

Early in his term, al-Maliki was criticized by some for alleged reluctance to tackle Shiite militias. In 2006 he complained about an American raid against a Shiite militia leader because he said it had been conducted without his approval. In 2007, unnamed US military officers alleged al-Maliki was replacing Iraqi commanders who had cracked down on Shiite militias with party loyalists. A al-Maliki spokesman denied the allegation.

He has had, at times, a contentious relationship with the press. On August 24, 2006, he banned television channels from broadcasting images of bloodshed in the country and warned of legal action against those violating the order. Major General Rashid Flayah, head of a national police division added "...We are building the country with Kalashnikovs and you should help in building it with the use of your pen". The international Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) wrote to al-Maliki complaining of a "disturbing pattern of restrictions on the press" and of the "imprisonment, intimidation, and censorship of journalists."

On January 2, 2007, the Wall Street Journal published an interview with al-Maliki in which he said he wished he could end his term before it expires in 2009.

Relationship with US

In an interview published by the German magazine Der Spiegel in June 2008, al-Maliki said that a schedule for a withdrawal of US troops from the country of "about 16 months... would be the right time-frame for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes." In the interview, he said the US government has been reluctant to agree to a timetable "because they feel it would appear tantamount to an admission of defeat. But that isn't the case at all... it is not evidence of a defeat, but of a victory, of a severe blow we have inflicted on Al Qaeda and the militias." He said US negotiators were coming around to his point of view.

Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin were two of several US politicians who called for him to be removed from office in 2007. Senator Clinton urged Iraq's parliament to select a "less divisive and more unifying figure" and implied she felt al-Maliki was too concerned about Iraq's Shiite majority and not enough with national reconciliation. "During his trip to Iraq last week, Senator Levin ... confirmed that the Iraqi government is nonfunctional and cannot produce a political settlement because it is too beholden to religious and sectarian leaders," she said.

Maliki hit back and said the Democratic senators were acting as if Iraq was "their property" and that they should "come to their senses" and "respect democracy".

After 17 Iraqis were shot and killed by Blackwater USA security guards al-Maliki called on the US embassy to stop working with the company and said: "What happened was a crime. It has left a deep grudge and anger, both inside the government and among the Iraqi people."

Maliki's friendly gestures towards Iran have sometimes created tension between his government and the US but he has also been willing to consider steps opposed by Tehran, particularly while carrying out negotiations with the US on a joint-security pact. A news report said a June 2008 al-Maliki visit to Tehran "appeared aimed at getting Iran to tone down its opposition and ease criticism within Iraq." al-Maliki said an agreement reached with the US won't preclude good relations with neighbors like Iran.

In August 2007, CNN reported that the firm of Barbour, Griffith & Rogers had "begun a public campaign to undermine the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki." The network described BGR as a "powerhouse Republican lobbying firm with close ties to the White House." CNN also mentioned that Ayad Allawi is both al-Maliki's rival and BGR's client, although it did not assert that Allawi had hired BGR to undermine al-Maliki.

Official visits

On June 13, 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush paid a visit to Baghdadmarker to meet with al-Maliki and President of Iraq Jalal Talabani, as a token of support for the new government. On June 25, al-Maliki presented a national reconciliation plan to the Iraqi parliament. The peace plan sets out to remove powerful militias from the streets, open a dialogue with rebels, and review the status of purged members of the once-ruling Ba'ath party. Some viewed this as a bold step towards rebuilding Iraq and reaching out to Sunnis.By July 2006, when al-Maliki visited the United States, violence had continued and even escalated, leading many to conclude that the reconciliation plan was not working or was moving too slow.On July 26, 2006, al-Maliki addressed a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.. Several New York Democrats boycotted the speech after Al-Maliki condemned Israelmarker's attack on Lebanonmarker. Howard Dean, the DNC chairman, accused Al-Maliki of being an "anti-Semite" and said the United Statesmarker shouldn't spend so much on Iraq and then hand it over to people like al-Malki.

In September 2006 Al-Maliki made his first official visit to neighbouring Iranmarker, whose alleged influence on Iraq is a matter of concern for Washington DCmarker. He discussed with Iranian officials, including president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the "principle of no interference in internal affairs" during his visit on September 11 2006 and September 12 2006, i.e. political and security issues. His visit closely followed an incident in which Iran detained Iraqi soldiers it accused of having illegally crossed the border. Ibrahim Shaker, Iraqi defence ministry spokesman, said the five soldiers, one officer and one translator involved had simply been doing "their duty." During his visit al-Malki called the Islamic Republic of Iran “a good friend and brother.”

A meeting between al-Malki and former US President George Bush on December 14, 2008 was disrupted when Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al Zaidi threw his shoes at Bush.


  • "I consider myself a friend of the U.S., but I'm not America's man in Iraq."
  • "As Iraq has triumphed over terrorism, it will triumph in the international arena."
  • "We did not provide any sanctuary or opportunity for any outlaws, whether they were followers of the Mehdi Army or Muqtada al-Sadr or the Islamic Council or even of the Dawa party. This is the truth all Iraqis know and are proud of -- we deal with all outlaws equally...I would be very easy with any decision that goes through the democratic framework and will be very tough if anything is being tried outside the democratic framework."


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