Talabani Warns Iraq's Neighbors Against Interfering

Jalal Talabani

hide captionIraqi President Jalal Talabani, during a recent visit to Washington, D.C.

Davar Ardalan, NPR

About Jalal Talabani

1933: Born in the village of Kelkan near Lake Dokan in Iraqi Kurdistan.

 

1947: Joins Kurdistan Democratic Party.

 

1953: Enters law school.

 

1956: Goes into hiding in 1956 to escape arrest for founding the Kurdistan Student Union.

 

1958: Returns to law school, while pursuing a career as a journalist and editor.

 

1959: Serves in Iraqi army.

 

Early 1960s: Leads resistance in key regions during Kurdish revolt against the Iraqi government.

 

1974-1975: Fights during Kurdish revolution against Iraq's Baathist dictatorship.

 

1975: Helps found the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

 

1991: Returns to Iraq after being forced to leave in the late 1980s and works to establish a Kurdish safe haven in Iraqi Kurdistan.

 

1992: Democratic elections for a Kurdish parliament are held in the safe haven, leading to the formation of a Kurdish regional government.

 

April 2005: Iraq's National Assembly appoints him interim president.

 

April 2006: Elected to second term as president.

Talabani awaits a Monday meeting with former CIA chief George Tenet. i i

hide captionTalabani awaits a Monday meeting with former CIA chief George Tenet.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Talabani awaits a Monday meeting with former CIA chief George Tenet.

Talabani awaits a Monday meeting with former CIA chief George Tenet.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Jalal Talabani is president of Iraq, a country that many of his fellow Kurds don't believe in. The autonomy of the Kurdish region in northern Iraq is making it harder to resist demands for other autonomous regions in Iraq. That, in turn, adds to fears that Iraq could break apart.

Last week, at the United Nations, Talabani issued a warning about the constant violence that threatens to split Iraq into three distinct parts.

"We say it openly, our people's patience is nearing its end, particularly when it sees the blood of its innocent sons and daughters being spilled and defiled..." he said.

In an interview with NPR, Talabani explains that he's impatient with Iraq's neighbors, citing Syria, Iran and Turkey.

"We are asking them to stop interfering in our internal affairs, and especially the sovereignty and independence of Iraq," he says.

If the violence doesn't stop, he says, the Iraqi people will "support the opposition of other countries" and "will try to make troubles for them as they have done for us."

Talabani's statement surprised Peter Galbraith, a longtime American adviser to Iraq's Kurds.

"To hear him say that Iraq is prepared to support opposition groups, armed opposition groups implicitly, in each of these countries is a reflection of real frustration with what's going on in Iraq," Galbraith says.

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