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Jalal Talabani
Arabic: jalāl 'at-tālabānī

Jalal Talabani.
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Jalal Talabani.

Jalal Talabani.
ZOOM - Open a large version of this image

(Born 1934) President of Iraq 2005 until present.
While Talabani has been active in fighting for Kurdish rights most of his life, possibly even independence, he pledged himself in favour of a united Iraq following the US/British invasion. Talabani has been a master in changing alliances all through his political life, and has several times made alliances with former enemies.
It could be suggested that he is primarily interested in keeping his positions and power, but also that he has been a pragmatic survivor under very hard conditions.

1934: Born into a landowning family in Koy Sanjak in the Irbil Province.
1947: Joins the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
1951: Becomes member of the central committee of the KDP.
1953: Starts studying law at Baghdad University.
1954: Is elected Secretary General of the Kurdistan Students Union.
1959: Obtains a law degree from Baghdad University, and starts practicing as lawyer.
1961: Becomes head of the KDP Peshmerga ("Freedom fighters").
1966: Leaves the KDP and founds an alternative KDP.
1970: Rejoins the KDP. He moves to Beirut, later to Damascus, serving as KDP's envoy.
1975: Founds the Kurdish Workers League.
1976: Joins with the Social Democratic Movement and forms the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
1980 With the start of the Iran-Iraq War Talabani joins forces with KDP in opposing the government in Baghdad.
1987: Forms the iraqi Kurdistan Front together with KDP, under the protection of Iran. They establish small pockets of Kurdish areas liberated from Baghdad.
1988: Iraq reconquers the liberated Kurdish areas. Talabani flees to Syria.
1991 March: Central in starting a Kurdish uprising against the central government of Baghdad, which would lead to a flood of 1.5 million Kurdish refugees.
1992 May: Elections in the Kurdish areas, under the protection of Western countries. Talabani became leader together with Masud Barzani of KDP.
1994 May: The coalition breaks down, and PUK troops wage partisan war with KDP, resulting in more than 1,000 dead.
1995: With a new stability coming to Kurdistan, Talabani finds himself controlling an area with about 2 million inhabitants. In order to find resources for the administration, he made advances towards the government in Teheran. KDP and Baghdad reacted, and forced KDP and PUK to cooperate.
1996 August: New fighting between KDP and PUK. At one point Talabani had lost all his territory, but reconquered all but Irbil with the aid of Iran.
2003: With the US initiative, Talabani agrees to cooperate with KDP against the regime of Saddam Hussein.
— Talabani breaches his agreement with KDP, and has his forces take control over Kirkuk.
2004: Forms the Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan (DPAK) together with Barzani and KDP.
2005 January 30: DPAK wins 104 of the 111 seats in Kurdish National Assembly and 75 seats of 275 in the transitional Iraqi National Assembly.
2005 April 6: Is elected president of Iraq.

By Tore Kjeilen