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Information about Iraq: People | Leaders | Flag
History | Government | Geography | Economy

The interim Iraqi Governing Council was the provisional government of Iraq established by the US-led coalition that ousted the Saddam Hussein regime. The council consisted of various Iraqi political, religious, and tribal leaders who were appointed by the Coalition Provisional Authority to provide transitional leadership of the country to an eventual democratic state.

The Council's ethnic and religious breakdown included 13 Shi'ites, five Sunni Arabs, five Kurds (also Sunnis), one ethnic Turk and an Assyrian Christian.

In September 2003, the Iraqi Governing Council gained regional recognition from the Arab League, which agreed to seat its representative in Iraq's chair at its meetings.

On June 1, 2004, the Iraq Interim Governing Council dissolved after choosing Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer as the new Iraqi president.

Interim Government Officials

Interim President Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer

He was born in Mosul, Iraq. He was originally a member of the Interim Iraq Governing Council created following the United States's 2003 invasion of Iraq. As President of the Council, in 2004 he was appointed by the council to serve as interim President of Iraq following the June 28 return of Iraqi sovereignty from the Coalition Provisional Authority.

A Sunni Muslim and Shamar tribal leader, al-Yawer is a civil engineer by training. He studied in the King Fahad University of Petroleum & Minerals (formally, UPM) for the first 2 years, then finished his BSc in the UK. He then took his masters at Georgetown University in Washington in the mid 1980s.

He was scheduled to be the last holder of the rotating council presidency, with a term lasting until June 30, 2004, the date of the expected transition to official Iraqi sovereignty. Instead, he was chosen at an earlier date to be Iraq's formal Head of State, and occupy the largely symbolic post of "State President" of Iraq. This is to be held in an interim capacity until an elected Iraqi parliament can select a new permanent president, as mandated in the Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period. He and the interim government were sworn in on June 28, 2004, when the U.S.-led coalition handed over power two days early.

His appointment as interim President came at the advice of a UN special envoy to Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi, who chose Ghazi in recognition of his age and stature, and the fact that he was a moderate Sunni Muslim. Iraq's new Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, is a Shiite Muslim; the two collectively represent Iraq's largest religious groups.

His grandfather played a role in guiding Iraq towards independence in the 1920s.

Interim Vice President Ibrahim Al-Jaafari

He is a Shiite, is the main spokesman for the Islamic Dawa Party which is now based in Iraq. The party, once based in Iran, launched a bloody campaign against Saddam Hussein's regime in the late 1970's, but was crushed in 1982. The group said it lost 77,000 members in its war against Saddam. Born in Karbala, al-Jaafari was educated at Mosul university as a medical doctor.

Brother-in-law of the Shia Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, he was picked in July 2003 as member of the U.S.-backed Iraq Interim Governing Council, a post he held until the council was dissolved on June 1, 2004. In August 2003 he held the monthly rotating presidency of the council. On June 1, 2004, he was selected to be one of the two vice-presidents of Iraq in the new government which will be installed on June 30, 2004.

Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi

Allawi was born in 1945 to a prominent Iraqi Shia family; his grandfather helped to negotiate Iraq's independence from Britain, and his father was an MP. In the 1960s, he studied at medical school in Baghdad, where he first met Saddam Hussein. Allawi was appointed to the Iraqi Governing Council following his return from exile after the fall of Saddam in 2003. He held the rotating presidency of the interim governing council during October of 2003.

On May 28, 2004, he was chosen by the council to be the Interim Prime Minister of Iraq to govern the country beginning with the United States' handover of sovereignty (June 30, 2004) until national elections, scheduled for early 2005. Although many believe the decision was reached largely on the advice of United Nations special envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, the New York Times reported that Brahimi only endorsed him reluctantly after pressure from US officials. In the US, Allawi is often described as a moderate Shia, a member of Iraq's majority faith, chosen for his moderate religious and political views. On June 28, 2004 (two days early), the U.S.-led coalition handed over power to Allawi and the interim government, who were sworn in later that same day.

Principal Government Officials (prior to 2003)

President, RCC Chairman, Prime Minister, Ba'ath Party Regional Command Secretary General--Saddam Hussein

He was born to a peasant father on April 28, 1937, in the village of al-Oja near desert town of Tikrit, north of Baghdad. Saddam's father died before he was born. He was raised by an uncle.

Violence has long been a part of Saddam's political strategy. The year after his joining the Baath Socialist Party in 1957, he spent six months in prison for slaying of brother-in-law, a communist. In 1968, the Baath Party took over in a coup Saddam helped organize. Saddam pushed aside coup leader Gen. Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr to become president in July 1979, and hundreds of senior party members were imprisoned or executed.

After more than decade of sanctions and political isolation sparked by 1990 invasion of Kuwait and felt most sharply by ordinary Iraqis, Saddam remained defiant, predicting in televised speech to nation that Iraq would "no doubt emerge triumphant" against any U.S.-led war.

In a country where family and hometown connections are paramount, Saddam has protected himself by grooming his son as successor and surrounding himself with relatives and friends from Tikrit area.

Saddam and his wife, Sajida Khairallah Telfah, have two daughters and three sons. Their daughters and the youngest son keep low profiles. Saddam's wife is his cousin, her late father had raised Saddam.

Vice President--Taha Yasin Ramadan

He has been vice president since March 1991 and is considered as ruthless as Saddam. In 1970, he headed a revolutionary court that executed 44 officers for plotting to overthrow the regime. During a visit to Jordan in 1980s, he was quoted as telling fundamentalists that Muslims were free to follow their faith, "but if they try to harm the Baathist regime or ridicule its slogans, the regime will break their necks!"

Born in 1938 in Mosul in northeastern Iraq, Ramadan was a bank clerk and later became a junior army officer. He joined underground Baath in 1956 and there became close to Saddam. Although considered less influential now, Ramadan is high on the list of regime figures that Iraqi opposition groups say should be tried.

Vice President--Taha Muhyi al-Din Ma'ruf

He is the only Kurd in Baath hierarchy and became vice president in 1975. Appointment as one of two vice presidents is seen largely as a gesture to Kurdish minority; he has little real power.

Born in 1924 into a prominent family in Kurd-dominated northern Iraq, Muhyi joined the Baath in 1968 and held several ministerial posts. He has also served as an ambassador to Italy, Malta and Albania.

Ministers

Deputy Prime Minister--Tariq Aziz

He is a deputy prime minister and the only Christian in Iraqi leadership. Aziz is one of Iraq's best known voices to world. Although one of Saddam's most loyal aides, like most non-Tikritis, he has virtually no power.

Born in 1936 in Mosul, Aziz studied English literature at Baghdad College of Fine Arts. He became a teacher and journalist. Aziz joined Baath in 1957 and worked closely with Saddam to overthrow British-imposed monarchy.

Deputy Prime Minister--Abd Al-Tawab Mullah Huwaysh

Deputy Prime Minister--Ahmad Husayn Khudayir al-Samarrai

Minister of Information--Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf

Minister of Foreign Affairs--Naji Sabri Hadithi

He has been foreign minister since 2001. Hadithi has led the failed negotiations with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the return of weapons inspectors to Iraq. He has crisscrossed region seeking Arab support for Iraq.

Sabri is thought to be close to Saddam's younger son Qusai, and Saddam likely values Sabri's loyalty and command of English. But for sensitive missions Saddam likely to pick relative or longtime aide rather than Sabri.

Born in 1948, Sabri is a rare figure in Iraqi politics: he is a man whose fall from grace was not career ending. In 1980 he was recalled from the Iraqi Embassy in London after two brothers were jailed on conspiracy charges. One brother died in prison; the other was freed after six years. Sabri ran an English-language newspaper and arts journal in Baghdad for several years after the scandal. By time of the Gulf War, he had been rehabilitated.

Minister of Finance, Deputy Premier--Hikmat al-Azzawi

UN Perm Rep--Muhammad al-Duri

Minister of Oil--Amir Rashid Muhammad al-Ubaydi

Minister of Trade--Mohammed Mahdi Salih

Minister of State--Arshad Mohammed al-Zibari

Minister of Health--Omeed Midhat Mubarak

Minister of Industry and Minerals--Muyassar Raja Shalah al-Tikriti

Minister of Justice--Mundhir Ibrahim al Shawi

Minister of Transport and Communications--Dr. Ahmed Murtadha Ahmed Khalil

Sources: The U.S. Department of State (www.state.gov) and the Associated Press

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