Najmiddin Karim

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Najmaldin Karim
Najmaldin Karim conference speech.jpg
Governor of Kirkuk
In office
3 April 2011[1] – 14 September 2017[2][a]
Preceded by Abdul Rahman Mustafa
Succeeded by Rakan Said[6]
Member of the Council of Representatives
Assumed office
7 March 2010
Constituency Kirkuk
Personal details
Born 1949 (age 68–69)
Kirkuk, Iraq
Citizenship Iraq
United States
Political party Patriotic Union of Kurdistan[7]
Alma mater George Washington University
University of Mosul


Military service
Service/branch Peshmerga
Years of service 1972 - 1975

Dr. Najmiddin Karim (Kurdish: نەجمەدین کەریم‎), born 1949, also known as Najmaldin Karim,[8][9] is the former governor[3] of Kirkuk Governorate in Iraq. Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Karim had served in numerous Kurdish and Iraqi opposition groups.

Early years[edit]

Karim was born in Kirkuk in 1949, and lived in Kirkuk until he completed secondary school, when upon he moved to Mosul, where he studied medicine at the Mosul Medical College. Karim became involved in politics at university, being elected to the leadership of the Kurdish Student Union in 1971, and then later joining the peshmerga in 1972.

Karim left Iraq in 1975. He later completed neurosurgery training at George Washington University, and started his own medical practice in the Washington, DC area. Karim became an American citizen and lived in The United States until 2009, when he returned to Kirkuk. In addition to Kurdish activism in the U.S., Karim was active in the Iraqi opposition aimed at removing the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Return to Iraq[edit]

Karim returned to Iraq in 2009 to stand for the Kurdistan Alliance in the parliamentary election, and was elected as a member of parliament for Kirkuk. He was subsequently elected as governor of Kirkuk Governorate by Kirkuk's Governorate Council on 29 March 2011.[10] He was sworn in as the governor on 3 April 2011.[1] Dr. Karim was the head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan's Kirkuk list in the 2014 general elections where he drew enormous support across ethnic groups with over 200,000 votes. This led to the Kurdish dominance in provincial representation. Dr. Karim's non-partisan work for all Kirkukis became evident at the polls.

Following President Jalal Talabani's stroke on December 17, 2012, Karim served as the head of Talabani's medical team when Talabani was in Iraq, although the majority of his medical treatment was carried out in Germany.[11] On September 14, 2017, Karim was removed from the governorship by Iraqi parliament for holding the Kurdish referendum in Kirkuk.[3] Karim however stated he will not follow the dismissal order and will stay in office.[4] The provincial council meanwhile condemned the decision of the parliament with council head Ribwar al-Talabani claiming only the council had the power to remove him.[12] In October 2017, Karim had to leave the city of Kirkuk after the Iraqi federal army entered the province.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Karim has both Iraqi and American citizenship, and prior to his return to Iraq lived in The United States with his wife and family, where he ran his medical practice.[13]


  1. ^ a b Ali, Aram. "Kirkuk's New Governor Sworn In". Rudaw. Archived from the original on 6 April 2011. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c "Iraqi parliament votes to remove kirkuk governor from office: lawmakers". Reuters. 14 September 2017. Retrieved 2017-10-16. 
  4. ^ a b Raya Jalabi; Ulf Laessing (14 September 2017). "Western powers press Iraq Kurd leaders to shelve 'very risky' independence vote". Reuters. Retrieved 15 September 2017. 
  5. ^ a b "As Kirkuk's Governor Is Forced to Flee, Iran Moves In". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2017-10-19. 
  6. ^ a b "Iraqi forces claim rapid progress in operation to 'impose security' on Kirkuk". The Guardian. 
  7. ^ Mostafa, Mohamed (18 October 2017). "Iraqi court upholds removal of Kirkuk's Kurdish governor". Iraqi News. 
  8. ^ "Kurdish forces attack Islamic State west of Kirkuk". The Japan Times Online. 10 March 2015. 
  9. ^ "Iraq dismisses Kirkuk governor amid dispute with Kurds". The Hindu. 14 September 2017. 
  10. ^ "New Kirkuk Governor, Council Chief, elected". Aswat al-Iraq. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. 
  11. ^ Anatolia News Agency (17 May 2013). "Iraq Presidential Office publishes pictures showing ailing Jalal Talabani recovering from stroke". Hurriyet Daily News. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  12. ^ Mahmoud Barakat; Hussein al-Amir (19 September 2017). "Kirkuk council blasts parliament bid to remove governor". Anadolu Agency. Retrieved 19 September 2017. 
  13. ^


  1. ^ Karim was dismissed by Iraqi parliament on 14 September,[3] however he refused to follow the order.[4] In October 2017, he fled after the Iraqi federal army entered the province.[5] Rakan Said was appointed to replace Karim on 16 October.[6]