Osama al-Nujaifi

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Osama al-Nujaifi
أسامة النجيفي
Usama al-Nujayfi at US Department of State.jpg
Osama al-Nujaifi,
2011 at the U.S. Department of State
Vice President of Iraq
In office
9 September 2014 – 11 August 2015
President Fuad Masum
Preceded by Khodair al-Khozaei
Succeeded by Office abolished
Speaker of the Council of Representatives
In office
11 November 2010 – 15 July 2014
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
Preceded by Fuad Masum (acting)
Succeeded by Salim al-Jabouri
Minister of Industry
In office
3 May 2005 – 20 May 2006
Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari
Preceded by Hajim al-Hassani (interim)
Succeeded by Fawzi Hariri
Personal details
Born Usama Abdu'l Aziz al-Nujayfi
1956 (age 59–60)
Mosul, Iraq
Nationality Iraqi
Political party al-Hadba (in the Muttahidoon coalition)
Relations Atheel al-Nujaifi (Brother)
Residence Baghdad, Iraq
Profession Engineer, politician
Religion Sunni Islam

Osama Abdul Aziz al-Nujaifi[1] or Najifi (Arabic: أسامة النجيفي‎; born c. 1956 in Mosul) is an Iraqi politician. As the Speaker of the Council of Representatives, the informal leader of the moderate Sunni al-Hadba party was the highest ranking Sunni politician of Iraq.

An engineer by profession, al-Nujaifi served as Minister of Industry in the 2005–06 Iraqi Transitional Government. He later won the 2010 parliamentary election and was elected the Speaker of the Council of Representatives. During this time, he built up a reputation as prime minister al-Maliki staunchest adversary, whom as a Sunni he could defy but not challenge. After leaving offices together with al-Maliki in 2014, he was rewarded the ceremonial post of a Vice President of Iraq.

Early life, education and early career[edit]

al-Nujaifi was born 1956 in Mosul to a wealthy family of landowners and politicians. Both his grandfather Muhammad and his father served as members of parliament during the monarchist era. He grew up racing Arabian horses for his family.[2]

In 1978, al-Nujaifi earned a degree in electrical engineering, from the University of Mosul. Shortly after graduation, he worked in the Iraqi government's electricity ministry for 12 years,[3] involved in building power plants.

Together with his brother Atheel, the later governor of Ninawa, in the early 1990s he took over his family’s agricultural company, and particularly started out in the Arabian horse trade.[4]

During the rule of Saddam Hussein, the al-Nujaifi family largely remained out of politics, returning to the public scene following his toppling in 2003.[4] They were however accused of harboring sympathies for Saddam's Baath Party,[2] and were indeed involved in horse trades with Saddam's sons Uday and Qusai.[5]

Political career[edit]

In the Iraqi Transitional Government, al-Nujaifi was appointed Minister of Industry. During his one year tenure, he privatized most of the state-owned companies which included firms working in sectors from petrochemical and cement to sugar, silk and heavy industry. He campaigned against the ratification of the Constitution of Iraq.[6]

Following the Iraqi legislative election of December 2005, he was nominated by the Iraqi National List to become a member of the Council of Representatives. On 26 January 2006, he survived an assassination attempt, when a roadside bomb detonated close to his convoy near the town of Balad, killing three of his bodyguards.[7] Heading a parliamentary committee to assess the humanitarian situation in Nineveh Province, he criticized the conduct of governor Duraid Kashmoula: "We have seen no trace of the huge sums of money said to have been appropriated for the province and could gather no idea on how they were spent."[8]

In September 2006 al-Nujaifi's bodyguard was assassinated.[9] Later that month, al-Nujaifi sparked a walkout by the 55 MPSs of the Kurdistan Alliance when in a parliamentary speech he belittled the historical and current role of Kurds in Mosul area. His speech was seen chauvinist by the Kurds, urging even fellow members of the Iraqi National List to distance themselves from al-Nujaifi's words.[10] al-Nujaifi claimed in October 2008 that the 2008 attacks on Christians in Mosul were carried out by Kurdish peshmerga and intelligence operatives.[11]

Speaker of the Council of Representatives[edit]

The al-Nujaifi brothers' al-Hadba party contested the 2010 parliamentary election as part of the cross-sectarian Iraqiyya bloc, which became the largest parliamentary force. Iraqiyya however didn't manage to secure a clear majority to elect its Shiite leader Ayad Allawi to replace current prime minister Nuri al-Maliki. On 11 November 2010, after three days of pressure talk, al-Nujaifi was elected the Speaker of the Council of Representatives, obtaining 227 votes out of 295, with 30 MPs not attending the session. In turn, the power-sharing deal brokered by Kurdish politician Massoud Barzani secured al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani's posts.[3] In his first parliamentary speech, Nujafi however held al-Maliki's government responsible for the country’s "fear, hunger, poverty and corruption," adding that Iraq was considered today "the most corrupt country in the world."[2]

In his first visit to the US as Iraqi parliament speaker, al-Nujaifi refused following protocol, denying to place a wreath on the Arlington Tomb of the Unknowns on the basis that he considered the Americans "an occupying force rather than liberators".[4] When he revisited Washington in early 2014 to discuss the ongoing Sunni insurgency in Anbar province, he took a different stance, stressing the importance of the US role in Iraq "to support the political process developed in Iraq." He criticized the treatment of the Sunni Sahwa forces, who fought al-Qaeda in Iraq, though refused to join the Iraqi Army, until they were massively prosecuted by the al-Maliki government. "The policy of exclusion and marginalization of Sunnis and the arrest of thousands of them for illegal reasons provided a suitable ground for the return of al-Qaeda."[12]

Named "the inner circle’s new face", Nujaifi by then was the highest-ranking Sunni politician of Iraq,[2] Within the increasingly fragmented Iraqiyya national bloc, al-Nujaifi's al-Hadba party shaped the new moderately Sunni Muttahidoon coalition, advocating a Sunni federal region in Iraq to contest the 2013 governorate elections. Seen by many as a future presidential prospect,[4] his new coalition however didn't succeed in playing a central role neither in the governorate elections nor in the 2014 parliamentary election. After a weeklong deadlock situation, al-Nujaifi agreed not to seek another term as parliamentary speaker, if al-Maliki also drops his premiership bid.[13] As the prime minister cleared the path, Salim al-Jabouri from the Muttahidoon-allied Diyala is Our Identity coalition became the new parliamentary speaker.

Vice President[edit]

On 11 September 2014, just after the new al-Abadi Government was sworn in, al-Nujaifi was assigned the post of one of the Vice Presidents of Iraq, along with the former prime ministers al-Maliki and Allawi. On 11 August 2015, these largely ceremonial posts were however altogether abolished as part of prime minister Haider al-Abadi's reform plans.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ According to political ballot in 2010 his name was listed as "Usama Abdulaziz Mohammad Abdulaziz."
  2. ^ a b c d John Lenand; Duraid Adnan (12 November 2010). "On His First Day, Iraq’s Parliament Speaker Was Tested by Own Alliance". New York Times. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Sunni Arab Osama named Iraq Speaker". The Peninsula. 12 November 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d Hamza Mustafa (6 October 2013). "Osama Al-Nujaifi: Iraq’s Future President?". Asharq Al-Awsat. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  5. ^ Ned Parker; Usama Redha (25 January 2009). "Arabs, Kurds take their fight to polls". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  6. ^ "Iraqi official expects nothing to new constitution". Xinhua. 14 October 2005. Retrieved 6 January 2016 – via People's Daily. 
  7. ^ "Iraq minister escapes bomb attack". BBC News. 26 January 2006. Retrieved 6 January 2016. 
  8. ^ "Mosul waits for "miracle" of peace in Iraq". Asia News. 11 July 2006. Retrieved 6 January 2016. 
  9. ^ "MP's bodyguard assassinated in Iraq". KUNA. 18 September 2006. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. 
  10. ^ "Kurdistani coalition walks out Iraqi parliament over Najifi statement". KUNA. 25 September 2006. Archived from the original on 28 October 2006 – via Iraq Updates. 
  11. ^ "Kurdish Groups behind attacks on Assyrians in Mosul: Iraqi MP". AINA. 13 October 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2016. 
  12. ^ Ali Abdelamir (28 January 2014). "Nujaifi discusses Iraqi crisis with US officials, academics". Al Monitor. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  13. ^ "Iraq: Nujaifi says won’t seek new term as speaker if Maliki drops premiership bid". Asharq Al-Awsat. 4 July 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  14. ^ "Iraq reforms: Parliament backs PM Haider al-Abadi's plan". BBC News. 11 August 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 

External links[edit]