Barham Salih

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Barham Salih
Barham Salih conducts a press conference in the Pentagon on Sept. 14, 2006.jpg
2nd Prime Minister of Iraqi Kurdistan
In office
28 October 2009 – 5 April 2012
President Masoud Barzani
Deputy Imad Ahmad Sayfour
Preceded by Nechervan Barzani
Succeeded by Nechervan Barzani
Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq
In office
20 May 2006[1] – 20 August 2009[2]
Serving with Salam al-Zaubai,[3] Rafi al-Issawi[4]
President Jalal Talabani
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
Preceded by Rowsch Shaways
Succeeded by Rowsch Shaways
In office
28 June 2004 – 3 May 2005
President Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer
Prime Minister Iyad Allawi
Preceded by Coalition Provisional Authority
Succeeded by Rowsch Shaways
3rd Prime Minister of PUK-controlled Kurdistan
In office
21 January 2001 – 4 July 2004
President Jalal Talebani
Preceded by Kosrat Rasul Ali
Succeeded by Omar Fattah Hussein (acting)
Chair of Board of Trustees at The American University of Iraq, Sulaimani
In office
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Jill Derby
Personal details
Born (1960-09-12) 12 September 1960 (age 58)
Sulaymaniyah, Iraq
Nationality Iraqi
Political party Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (1976-2017)
Coalition for Democracy and Justice (2017-present)
Spouse(s) Sarbagh Salih
Residence Erbil
Alma mater Cardiff University
University of Liverpool

Barham Ahmed Salih (Kurdish: به‌رهه‌م ئه‌حمه‌د ساڵح‎ or Berhem Salih; Arabic: برهم أحمد صالح‎; born 1960) is an Iraqi Kurdish politician. He is the former prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraqi Kurdistan and a former deputy prime minister of the Iraqi federal government.

Early life[edit]

Dr. Barham Salih was born in 1960 in the city of Sulaymaniyah in Iraq. He was arrested in 1979 by the Baathist regime twice on charges of involvement in the Kurdish national movement by taking some photos of protestors in Sulaimaniya city and spent 43 days in detention in a Special Investigation Commission prison in Kirkuk where he was tortured.[5] Once released, he finished high school and left Iraq for the United Kingdom to flee continuous persecution.

Deputy Secretary General of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan[edit]

Dr. 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 June 10, 2009, broadcast from Baghdad, and was interviewed by the host. He praised the U.S. military for freeing Iraq, and acknowledged that many Kurds desire independence.

Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government[edit]

Barham Salih spearheaded the Kurdistani List in the Iraqi Kurdistan legislative election, 2009. 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.[6] He relinquished the post of Prime Minister to Nechervan Idris Barzani on the 5 April 2012 as part of a political agreement between the ruling KDP–PUK coalition.[7]

He is married to Dr. Sarbagh Salih, the head and founding member of the Kurdish Botanical Foundation and a women's rights activist.[8]

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.[9]


  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. 04-10-2009. Retrieved 2009-08-20.  Check date values in: |date= (help)[dead link]
  3. ^ "Who's who in Iraq's new cabinet". BBC. 20 May 2006. 
  4. ^ Kenneth Katzman (2009). Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security. Diane Publishing Co. p. 55. ISBN 9781437919448. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Iraqi Kurdistan confirms Exxon oil deal-minister". Reuters. 13 November 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  7. ^ Razzouk, Nayla (5 March 2012). "Nechirvan Barzani to Take Over as Iraq Kurd Premier on March 7". Bloomberg. 
  8. ^ "Dr. BARHAM SALIH,Deputy prime minister, Republic of Iraq" (PDF). Brookings Institution. 2006-09-13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-11-03. 
  9. ^ Rasheed, Honar Hama. "Kurdish Political Heavyweight Announces Plan To Shake Up Local Voters". Niqash. Retrieved 2018-01-06. 

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