Barham Salih

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Barham Salih
Barham Salih (cropped).jpg
Salih in 2019
8th President of Iraq
Assumed office
2 October 2018
Prime MinisterHaider Al-Abadi
Adil Abdul-Mahdi
Mustafa Al-Kadhimi
Preceded byFuad Masum
Prime Minister of Kurdistan Region
In office
28 October 2009 – 5 April 2012
PresidentMasoud Barzani
Preceded byNechirvan Barzani
Succeeded byNechirvan Barzani
In office
21 January 2001 – 15 July 2004
PresidentJalal Talabani
Preceded byKosrat Rasul Ali
Succeeded byOmar Fattah Hussein (acting)
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
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

(1960-09-12) 12 September 1960 (age 61)
Slemani, Kurdistan, Iraq
Political partyPatriotic Union of Kurdistan (1976–2017, 2018–present)
Other political
Coalition for Democracy and Justice (2018)
Spouse(s)Sarbagh Salih
Residence(s)Radwaniyah Palace, Baghdad, Iraq
Alma materCardiff University
University of Liverpool

Barham Salih (Kurdish: بەرھەم ساڵح, romanized: Berhem Salih; Arabic: برهم صالح; born 12 September 1960) is an Iraqi Kurdish politician who is serving as the eighth 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 president of Iraq on 2 October 2018.

Early life and education[edit]

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 continued persecution.[6]

Personal life[edit]

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 Persian Gulf War. He was assigned the task of heading the PUK Office in the United States.

After the fall of the Ba'athist regime in 2003, 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 turbulence 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 the eighth 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]

In March 2019, Salih submitted the groundbreaking “Yazidi Female Survivors Law” to Parliament for review.[15] The ground-breaking bill set forth a number of reparation measures for female Yazidi survivors of captivity.[16] It was seen by the Yazidi leaders as an important step toward a secure future for the survivors, and so they could move on and rebuild their homes, which were destroyed by IS fighting.[17] On March 1, 2021, Parliament passed the Yazidi [Female] Survivors Bill into law, and the law was welcomed by Nadia Murad as "an important first step in acknowledging the gender-based trauma of sexual violence and need for tangible redress."[18]

On 24 September 2019, President Salih had his first bilateral meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.[19]

On 26 December 2019, Salih submitted a letter of resignation after refusing to appoint Basra Governor Asaad Al Eidani as Prime Minister following the resignation of Adil Abdul-Mahdi, amid ongoing protests across the country. Salih stated that Al Eidani would not be approved by the demonstrators.[20][21]

Assassination attempt[edit]

On April 2, 2002 Barham Salih was exposed to an assassination attempt by Ansar al-Islam group,[22] Salih survived the assassination attempt.[23]


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.[24][25][26]


  1. ^ The CIA World Factbook 2010, Book 2010. CIA. 2010. p. 331. ISBN 9781602397279. Archived from the original on 27 May 2021. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  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. Archived from the original on 2 October 2018. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  4. ^ Katzman, Kenneth (2009). Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security. Diane Publishing Co. p. 55. ISBN 978-1-4379-1944-8. Archived from the original on 27 May 2021. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  5. ^ "Iraq elects Kurdish Barham Salih as president". The National. 2 October 2018. Archived from the original on 7 June 2019. Retrieved 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. Archived from the original on 30 January 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  10. ^ Razzouk, Nayla (5 March 2012). "Nechirvan Barzani to Take Over as Iraq Kurd Premier on March 7". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 20 October 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  11. ^ Rasheed, Honar Hama. "Kurdish Political Heavyweight Announces Plan To Shake Up Local Voters". Niqash. Archived from the original on 24 April 2018. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  12. ^ "New Iraq President Barham Saleh names Adel Abdul Mahdi as PM". BBC. Archived from the original on 9 September 2019. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Moderate Saleh wins Iraq presidency". The Australian. Archived from the original on 27 May 2021. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  14. ^ "World reacts to Turkey's military operation in northeast Syria". Al-Jazeera. 10 October 2019. Archived from the original on 17 September 2020. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  15. ^ ""Yazidi Female Survivors Law" in Iraq is groundbreaking but not enough". OpenGlobalRights. Archived from the original on 14 January 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  16. ^ "Iraq's Reparation Bill for Yazidi Female Survivors: More Progress Needed". Middle East Centre. 26 April 2019. Archived from the original on 21 January 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  17. ^ "Yazidis Push for Reparation Bill in Iraqi Parliament | Voice of America - English". Archived from the original on 15 January 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  18. ^ Ochab, Dr. Ewelina U. (4 March 2021). "Iraq Adopts New Law To Assist Survivors Of The Daesh Genocide". Forbes. Archived from the original on 26 April 2021. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  19. ^ "". Archived from the original on 20 January 2021. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  20. ^ "Iraqi President Barham Saleh Submits Resignation to Parliament Amid Deadly Protests: Report". Time. Archived from the original on 26 December 2019. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
  21. ^ "Iraqi president threatens to quit in defiance of Iran's allies in parliament". Reuters. 26 December 2019. Archived from the original on 30 November 2020. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
  22. ^ Documentation, Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and (8 March 2006). "a-4812 (ACC-IRQ-4812)". Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  23. ^ "Iraqi Kurdish leader evades assassins". 3 April 2002. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  24. ^ By Rudaw. "Twittersphere reacts with anger, hope, humour to Barham Salih news". Rudaw. Archived from the original on 6 October 2018. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  25. ^ John J. Catherine. "Barham Salih holds talks to rejoin PUK before Kurdistan election". Kurdistan24. Archived from the original on 6 October 2018. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  26. ^ Corporation, Nalia. "CDJ to continue political, civil work after departure of Barham Salih". Archived from the original on 6 October 2018. Retrieved 6 October 2018.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of PUK-controlled Kurdistan
January 2001 – July 2004
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Deputy Prime Minister for National Security
June 2004 – May 2005
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Planning and Development Cooperation
May 2005 – May 2006
Succeeded by
Preceded by Deputy Prime Minister for National Security
May 2006 – August 2009
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Iraqi Kurdistan
August 2009– January 2012
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of Iraq
Succeeded by