Jawad al-Maliki, aka Nouri
al-Maliki, became Iraq's permanent prime minister in April 2006, laying
the foundation for the country's first fully constitutional government.
Al-Maliki is a prominent
member of Iraq's Dawa Party, the oldest of the three parties in the
Shiite bloc known as the United Iraqi Alliance that won the most number
of seats in parliamentary elections in December 2005.
"The new Iraqi
government will assume greater responsibility for their nation's security,"
al-Maliki told reporters in April 2006. "It will have the popular
mandate to address Iraq's toughest long-term challenges."
Among these challenges
include quelling increasing sectarian violence, controlling attacks
by insurgents and dealing with Iraq's economic crisis.
Known as an eloquent
speaker who is not afraid to voice his opinions, al-Maliki has been
outspoken about his criticisms of attacks on Iraq's Shiite majority
and of the U.S. approach to fight the Sunni-led insurgency. He has a
reputation as a champion of Shiite rights and is considered as one of
the harder line Shiite politicians raising concerns about his ability
to bridge differences in a country largely divided along sectarian lines.
Sunnis and Kurds
accepted al-Maliki's nomination despite his close ties with interim
Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
The Shiite coalition
originally selected al-Jaafari to remain in the post but reconsidered
after strong resistance from Sunni and Kurdish politicians over his
nomination stalled the formation of Iraq's government.
Al-Maliki has never
held a formal post in the Iraqi government but played a large role in
shaping the country's government after the U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam
Hussein in 2003.
He helped draft
Iraq's new constitution where he resisted a push from the United States
to put more Sunnis on the committee and deflected Sunni efforts to dilute
provisions giving Shiites and Kurds the power to form semiautonomous
mini-states. He also served as the chairman of the Security Committee
of the National Assembly and was an architect of counterterrorism legislation
enacted in 2005.
Al-Maliki was a
member of the de-Baathification committee from 2003-2004 charged with
purging the country's government and civil service of Saddam supporters.
The committee drew criticism for removing thousands of workers who had
joined the party in order to climb up the career ladder. In April 2004,
Paul Bremer, the top U.S. official in Iraq at the time, moved to return
teachers and military veterans to their old jobs.
as spokesman for the Dawa Party and the United Iraqi Alliance as well
as the top advisor to al-Jaafari who led the Dawa Party as Iraq's interim
During the rule
of Saddam Hussein, the Dawa Party led an armed resistance against Saddam's
Baathist rule that eventually forced al-Maliki and other Dawa leaders
into exile. He began using Jawad in pubic instead of his real name Nouri
after he joined Dawa but switched back to Nouri after becoming prime
In 1980, the Iraqi
government began hunting down Dawa leaders and sentenced al-Maliki to
death for his Dawa membership. He fled to Iran and later to Syria where
he spent most of his 23 years in exile before returning secretly to
Iraq in 2002.
In Syria, al-Maliki
led the Damascus branch of the Dawa Party and managed Shiite guerillas
still operating against in Iraq. Dawa officials opposed the U.S.-led
invasion of Iraq.
Al-Maliki was born
into a middle-class Shiite family in 1950 in the Iraqi town of Hindiya,
about 75 miles south of Baghdad between Karbala and Hilla. He earned
a master's degree in Arabic language and literature from Baghdad University
and served as an education official in Hilla. He is married and has
a son and three daughters.