Nuri Kamal al-MalikiPrime Minister of Iraq
Born: 20 June 1950
Birthplace: Near Hilla, Iraq
Best known as: Prime minister of Iraq, 2006-present
Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is the Iraqi politician who became his country's first elected prime minister after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Maliki was born in a tiny village in rural south-central Iraq. As a college student in Baghdad he joined the Dawa Party, an Islamic group that was outlawed by Saddam Hussein in 1979. Many party menbers were captured and killed, but Maliki escaped and lived in exile in Syria and Iran, where he continued to lead underground Dawa opposition to Hussein. Maliki returned to Iraq after Hussein was overthrown after the invasion ordered by American President George W. Bush in 2003. Maliki helped draft a new national constitution, and after parliamentary elections in 2005 he became a compromise candidate for prime minister, presenting himself as a fair broker among Sunnis, Kurds, and his own Shiite party. He was sworn in as the country's prime minister on 20 May 2006. Many expected Maliki to be a weak figurehead, but he proved to be a fighter, tangling with Bush and the Americans throughout 2007 while also strong-arming various sects and factions in Iraq. His Dawa Party won a majority of votes in the provincial elections of 2009, further establishing his power.
Extra credit: He used the pseudonym Jawad al-Maliki to hide his identity while in exile; he began using his real name again when he became prime minister. He is also called Abu Esraa, or the father of Esraa, his eldest daughter... His first name is sometimes spelled Noori or Nouri... His last name is pronounced "ahl-MAHL-ee-kee," according to The New York Times... Maliki has a master's degree in Arabic language and literature from Baghdad University... Maliki was the fellow standing next to George W. Bush on 14 December 2008 when journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi took off his shoes and threw them at the president.
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