Former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani Dies in German Hospital

Lester Mason
October 4, 2017

Former Iraqi president and leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Jalal Talabani has passed away in hospital in Berlin, Germany, aged 83.

And yet in Talabani's final days, Iran conspired with governments in Baghdad and Ankara to punish Iraq's Kurds for a referendum expressing their desire for independence. He was seen as a unifying figure within Iraq.

Talabani formerly led one of the largest Kurdish factions in Iraq before the 2003 US -led invasion led to the ouster of Saddam Hussein. In 1961, he joined Kurdish uprising against November government.

Gorran campaigned on an anti-corruption platform and argued that Kurdish politics had become nepotistic and dominated by the Barzani and Talabani clans, both of whom had numerous relatives in senior political positions. (He lost that argument, and Hussein was executed.) Talabani was a symbol of a unified Iraq, and yet he helped negotiate considerable autonomy for the Kurdistan Regional Government in the writing of Iraq's constitution.

Former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani Dies in German Hospital
Former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani Dies in German Hospital

Last week, Barzani told a rally in Sulemaniyah that Kurdistan's quest for independence would have been easier had Talabani been in better health.

Still, Talabani sought to cast himself as being above the fray, using the largely ceremonial powers of his post to try to take the edge off conflicts that flared among the country's factions. "And he worked tirelessly to deliver peace and liberty to his people".

His niece, Alaa Talabani, an Iraqi member of parliament, confirmed his death to CNN, after it was reported by Iraqi state TV and Kurdish media. Before he suffered a debilitating stroke in 2012 - and stepped down two years later - he had forged a steady working relationship with the Shia prime minister, Nouri al Maliki. He later spearheaded the independence referendum, which many of his critics saw as a bid to extend his rule.

His absence left a "political vacuum", said Falah Mustafa, the head of the Kurdish region's foreign relations department.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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