Talabani, Jalal, 1933–2017, Iraqi political leader, president of Iraq (2005–14), b. Kelkan. He joined the Kurdish Democratic party (KDP) in 1947, becoming a member of its central committee in 1951 and later the head of the party (1960–66). He obtained a law degree from Baghdad Univ. in 1959, but by the early 1960s was devoting himself to politics and the Kurdish resistance against the Iraqi government, including leading several diplomatic missions abroad to gather support for the Kurds. As a result of disagreements within the KDP, he and others in 1975 founded the more urban and socialist Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which he headed. After the Persian Gulf War and the establishment of a no-fly zone in N Iraq, armed conflict erupted (1994) between the PUK and the KDP, but in 1998 the two agreed to govern Iraqi Kurdistan jointly. A member of Iraq's interim governing council (2003–5) after the U.S. invasion, Talabani was first elected president by the transitional national assembly in 2005; he subsequently was reelected (2006, 2010) by the Iraqi parliament. As president of Iraq he worked to preserve the country's unity and bridge religious and ethnic divisions.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Middle Eastern History: Biographies