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est. 2005
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Jalal Talabani


Jalal Talabani was the first non-interim president of Iraq after the ouster of Saddam Hussein, and a rare stabilizing presence in the volatile country. He was also Iraq's first Kurdish president, and a prominent face of Kurdish activism throughout his career.

Talabani was politically active from a young age, joining Mustafa Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) as a teenager, but later split from Barzani and co-founded the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party in 1975. He warred against the Iraqi government as a guerrilla fighter in the 1960s, with the hope that the fighting would culminate in an independent Kurdish state. In the 1990s, in light of Saddam's gruesome massacre of the Kurds during the Gulf War and their further suppression after the war's conclusion, the United States and its allies established a no-fly zone over the northern Kurdish region of Iraq to provide them with refuge. Ruled by a fragile coalition of Talabani and Barzani's son and successor, Masoud, the territory was plunged into infighting and several years of a KDP-PUK civil war until a 1997 ceasefire.

Once Talabani assumed the Iraqi presidency, the onetime rebel took the role of a conciliatory elder statesman who cast aside his zest for Kurdish independence for the sake of the country's stability. Though his office was largely ceremonial, his shrewd negotiating ability was seen as crucial in attempts at easing strife between Iraq's numerous feuding factions. Acknowledging Talabani's willingness to cooperate with nearly anyone, Iraqi politician Mowaffak al-Rubaie said that "there are no permanent enemies for him, but there are permanent friends."

The corpulent Talabani enjoyed hearty meals and smoking cigars, making health problems an inevitability. He suffered a stroke in late 2012 that sidelined him politically and further added to the chaos in Iraq, amid sectarian strife and ISIS advancements. Talabani lingered on for several years, dying of a second stroke in late 2017.

I, TJS, included Talabani on my first AODP list following the 2012 stroke, and hung onto him since, as I rarely drop survivors. Hulka and I receive 8 points each (5 for age + 3 for duet).

-- TJS

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