Barham Salih

Barham Salih 

Barham Salih
8th President of Iraq
Assumed office 
2 October 2018
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi
Adil Abdul-Mahdi (designate)
Preceded by Fuad Masum
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 – 20 August 2009
Serving with Salam al-Zaubai, Rafi al-Issawi
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 Saddam Hussein
Prime Minister Iyad Allawi
Preceded by Coalition Provisional Authority
Succeeded by Rowsch Shaways
3rd Prime Minister of Kurdistan (PUK)
In office
21 January 2001 – 4 July 2004
President Jalal Talabani
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 Barham Ahmed Salih
12 September 1960
Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan
Nationality Iraqi
Political party Patriotic Union of Kurdistan(1976–2017, from 2018)
Other political
Coalition for Democracy and Justice (2017–2018)
Spouse(s) Sarbagh Salih
Residence Radwaniyah Palace, Baghdad, Iraq
Alma mater Cardiff University
University of Liverpool

Barham Ahmed Salih (Kurdish: بەرھەم ئەحمەد ساڵح‎; Arabic: برهم أحمد صالح‎; ) is an Iraqi Kurdish politician who serves as the 8th President of Iraq. 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

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. Once released, he finished high school and left Iraq for the United Kingdom to flee continuous persecution.

Barham Salih is married to Sarbagh Salih, the head and founding member of the Kurdish Botanical Foundation and a women’s rights activist. The couple has two children.

Political career

Deputy Secretary General of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan

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 10 June 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

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. 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.

Move to opposition

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.

President of Iraq

On 2 October 2018, Barham Salih was elected as 8th President of Iraq. He received 219 votes and defeated Fuad Hussein who secured 22 votes.


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.

Taken from Wikipedia

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