Barham Salih

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Barham Salih
Barham Salih portrait.jpg
8th President of Iraq
Assumed office
2 October 2018
Prime MinisterAdil Abdul-Mahdi
Vice PresidentNouri al-Maliki
Osama al-Nujaifi
Ayad Alawi
Preceded byFuad Masum
2nd Prime Minister of Kurdistan Region
In office
28 October 2009 – 5 April 2012
PresidentMasoud Barzani
Preceded byNechervan Barzani
Succeeded byNechervan Barzani
Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq
In office
20 May 2006[1] – 20 August 2009[2]
PresidentJalal Talabani
Prime MinisterNouri al-Maliki
Preceded byRowsch Shaways
Succeeded byRowsch Shaways
In office
28 June 2004 – 3 May 2005
Prime MinisterIyad Allawi
Preceded byCoalition Provisional Authority
Succeeded byRowsch Shaways
3rd Prime Minister of Kurdistan Region
In office
21 January 2001 – 20 July 2004
PresidentJalal Talabani
Preceded byKosrat Rasul Ali
Succeeded byOmar Fattah Hussein (acting)
Chair of Board of Trustees at The American University of Iraq, Sulaimani
In office
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byJill Derby
Personal details
Barham Ahmed Salih

(1960-07-12) 12 July 1960 (age 59)
Slemani, Kurdistan Region, Iraq
NationalityIraqi Kurd
Political partyPatriotic Union of Kurdistan (1976–2017, 2018–present)
Other political
Coalition for Democracy and Justice (2018)
Spouse(s)Sarbagh Salih
ResidenceRadwaniyah Palace, Baghdad, Iraq
Alma materCardiff University
University of Liverpool

Barham Salih (Kurdish: بەرھەم ساڵح‎, romanized: Berhem Salih; Arabic: برهم صالح‎; born 12 July 1960) is the 8th and current President of Iraq.[5] He is the former Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region and a former deputy prime minister of the Iraqi federal government. He was elected and assumed office as the President of Iraq on 2 October 2018.

Early life[edit]

Barham Ahmad Salih was born in 1960 in Sulaymaniyah. He was arrested in 1979 by the Ba'athist regime twice on charges of involvement in the Kurdish national movement by taking some photos of protesters in Sulaimaniya city and spent 43 days in detention in a Special Investigation Commission prison in Kirkuk where he was tortured.[6] Once released, he finished high school and left Iraq for the United Kingdom to flee continuous persecution.[6]

Barham Salih is married to Sarbagh Salih, the head and founding member of the Kurdish Botanical Foundation and a women's rights activist.[7] The couple have two children.[8]


Deputy Secretary General of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan[edit]

Barham Salih joined the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in late 1976 where he became a member of the PUK department of Europe, and was in charge of PUK foreign relations in London. In addition to the political struggle, he finished his university studies and received a Bachelors degree in Civil Engineering and Construction from the Cardiff University in 1983. He continued to study and obtained a Doctorate degree in Statistics and Computer Applications in Engineering from the University of Liverpool in 1987.

He was elected a member of the PUK leadership at the first party conference when Iraqi Kurdistan was liberated from the Ba'ath Party following the first Gulf War. He was assigned the task of heading the PUK Office in the United States.

After the fall of the Baathist regime, he became Deputy Prime Minister in the Interim Iraqi Government (in mid-2004), Minister of Planning in the Transitional Government (in 2005), and Deputy Prime Minister in the elected Iraqi Government (Nouri al-Maliki's Cabinet) in charge of the economic portfolio and Head of the Economic Committee. Representing the Iraqi Government, he launched the International Compact with Iraq – an initiative of mutual commitment between Iraq and the international community to help Iraq in meeting its obligations of "building a prosperous, democratic and federal country, in peace with itself and with the region and the world".

Salih appeared on The Colbert Report on 10 June 2009, broadcast from Baghdad, and was interviewed by the host. He praised the U.S. military for sending troops into Iraq, and acknowledged that many Kurds desire independence.

Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region Government[edit]

Barham Salih spearheaded the Kurdistani List in the 2009 Iraqi Kurdistan legislative election. The list won 59 of 111 seats. He succeeded Nechervan Idris Barzani as the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government. His term was marked by a turbulence time with the rise of an opposition (Movement for Change) to challenge the government while his own party was scrambling to stay together after losing the stronghold city of Sulaymaniyah. He survived the first motion of no confidence in Iraqi Kurdistan following the 2011 Kurdish protests in Iraq. He signed the first major oil contract with Exxon Mobil after drafting and amending a new oil law.[9] He relinquished the post of Prime Minister to Nechervan Idris Barzani on 5 April 2012 as part of a political agreement between the ruling KDP–PUK coalition.[10]

Move to opposition[edit]

In September 2017, Salih announced that he was leaving the PUK and forming a new opposition party, the Coalition for Democracy and Justice, to compete in the forthcoming Iraqi Kurdistan elections. Following the death of PUK leader Jalal Talabani and the Kurdish opposition leader Nawshirwan Mustafa, the alliance was seen to have the potential to change the Kurdish political landscape. He said he hoped to gather all the other opposition parties, including Gorran and Komal, to challenge the governing KDP–PUK alliance.[11]

President of Iraq[edit]

On 2 October 2018, Barham Salih was elected as 8th President of Iraq.[12] He received 219 votes and defeated Fuad Hussein who secured 22 votes.[13]

Salih condemned the 2019 Turkish offensive into north-eastern Syria, stating that it "will cause untold humanitarian suffering, empower terrorist groups. The world must unite to avert a catastrophe, promote political resolution to the rights of all Syrians, including Kurds, to peace, dignity and security".[14]


On 19 September 2018, the announcement that Barham Salih will be the PUK's candidate for the post of Iraqi president was greeted with anger by many on social media while others expressed hope that his international reputation and experience would bring a steady hand to tumultuous Baghdad. Some took to the social media platform to call Salih out for perceived opportunism, noting he had just recently been campaigning against PUK and KDP corruption.[15][16][17]


  1. ^ The CIA World Factbook 2010, Book 2010. CIA. 2010. p. 331. ISBN 9781602397279.
  2. ^ "Dabbagh: Iraqi PM approves resignation of Barham Salih". Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. 10 April 2009. Archived from the original on 3 December 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  3. ^ "Who's who in Iraq's new cabinet". BBC. 20 May 2006.
  4. ^ Katzman, Kenneth (2009). Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security. Diane Publishing Co. p. 55. ISBN 978-1-4379-1944-8.
  5. ^ "Iraq elects Kurdish Barham Salih as president". The National. 2 October 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Barham Salih: Biography and Profile". 2009. Archived from the original on 20 November 2009.
  7. ^ "Dr. Barham Salih, Deputy prime minister, Republic of Iraq" (PDF). Brookings Institution. 13 September 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 November 2007.
  8. ^ من هو الرئيس العراقي الجديد [Who is the new Iraqi president?]. Al Sumaria TV (in Arabic). Archived from the original on 4 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Iraqi Kurdistan confirms Exxon oil deal-minister". Reuters. 13 November 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  10. ^ Razzouk, Nayla (5 March 2012). "Nechirvan Barzani to Take Over as Iraq Kurd Premier on March 7". Bloomberg.
  11. ^ Rasheed, Honar Hama. "Kurdish Political Heavyweight Announces Plan To Shake Up Local Voters". Niqash. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  12. ^ "New Iraq President Barham Saleh names Adel Abdul Mahdi as PM". BBC. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Moderate Saleh wins Iraq presidency". The Australian. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  14. ^ "World reacts to Turkey's military operation in northeast Syria". Al-Jazeera. 10 October 2019.
  15. ^ By Rudaw. "Twittersphere reacts with anger, hope, humour to Barham Salih news". Rudaw.
  16. ^ John J. Catherine. "Barham Salih holds talks to rejoin PUK before Kurdistan election". Kurdistan24.
  17. ^ Corporation, Nalia. "CDJ to continue political, civil work after departure of Barham Salih".

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Kosrat Rasul Ali
Prime Minister of PUK-controlled Kurdistan
January 2001 – July 2004
Succeeded by
Omer Fattah Hussain (acting)
Preceded by
Deputy Prime Minister for National Security
June 2004 – May 2005
Succeeded by
Ahmed Chalabi
Ruz Nuri Shawis
Abid Mutlak al-Jubouri
Preceded by
Mahdi al-Hafez
Minister of Planning and Development Cooperation
May 2005 – May 2006
Succeeded by
Ali Baban
Preceded by
Ahmed Chalabi
Ruz Nuri Shawis
Abid Mutlak al-Jubouri
Deputy Prime Minister for National Security
May 2006 – August 2009
Succeeded by
Rafi al-Issawi
Preceded by
Nechervan Idris Barzani
Prime Minister of Iraqi Kurdistan
August 2009– January 2012
Succeeded by
Nechervan Idris Barzani
Preceded by
Fuad Masum
President of Iraq
Succeeded by