June 18, 2004 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 182

The New Leaders of Iraq (2): Interim Prime Minister Iyad Hashem Allawi and the Interim Government

June 18, 2004 | By Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli*
Iraq | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 182

Iyad Hashem Allawi was born in Baghdad in 1946 to a distinguished family, which resided in the upper class area of Baghdad, known as Al-Mansoor District. His father was Hashem Allawi, MD; his mother was Lebanese, from the well-known Al-Usairan family. The Allawi family played a leading role in Iraq during the monarchy. Abd Al-Amir Allawi was the minister of health (married to the sister of Dr. Ahmad Al-Chalabi) and Ja'far Allawi was one of Baghdad's leading architects. Like his father, Iyad Allawi became a doctor. He received his medical degree from the college of medicine at the University of Baghdad, moved to Beirut in 1971, and a year later relocated to the U.K. to pursue studies in neurology.

Because of his activities against the Iraqi regime while in England, he became a target for assassination by the Iraqi intelligence service (mukhabarat). In 1978, two agents of Saddam's intelligence service broke into Allawi's house and stabbed him several times, leaving him for dead. It took a year of hospitalization and a number of surgeries to restore his health. Not deterred by the attempt on his life, Allawi continued to oppose the regime and, in 1991, he established his political movement, the Iraqi National Accord (Al-Wifaq Al-Watani). By 1996, Allawi was able to publish a newspaper, Baghdad, now an Iraqi daily, and to build a broadcasting station called "The Future." [1] In 1996, the movement opened an office in Amman, Jordan, where he openly campaigned, sometimes with acts of sabotage, against the Saddam regime.

The preamble to the Accord's constitution states that the movement was established "for the sake of striving toward a democratic and competitive regime that respects human rights and lives in peace with its people, its neighbors, and the world at large." [2]

The Selection of Allawi as Prime Minister

Dr. Iyad Allawi was one of four candidates considered for the job of prime minister; all were acceptable to Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, whose endorsement was considered vital for the success of the candidate. The emergence of Dr. Allawi at the top is attributed by the press to two primary factors: first, he has had good relations with many Arab regimes, particularly with the Jordanian monarchy, which lobbied on his behalf to prevent any consideration of its nemesis, Dr. Ahmad Al-Chalabi. Moreover, as a former rotating president of the Iraqi Governing Council, he had urged the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to assign to Jordan the responsibility of training the Iraqi army and police. [3] Second, he has had good relations with elements of the U.S. government, mainly the State Department and the C.I.A., both of which harbored distrust of Dr. Al-Chalabi. Dr. Allawi has also spent $340,000 on public relations firms to lobby the U.S. government on his behalf. [4]

Inaugural Address

Allawi's inaugural address on June 1 was brief, poignant, and simple. He stated the obvious: "We Iraqis are just like the rest of the people of the world; we don't want our country to remain under occupation… The multinational force will remain in Iraq only as long as it is necessary to reestablish peace." Internally, his government will strive to improve the economy, solve unemployment problems, reduce the rate of inflation, improve purchasing power through an appreciated value for the Iraqi dinar, renovate infrastructure, and improve the electricity, water, and sewage networks. Externally, Iraq will be "peaceful and stable, and will co-exist constructively with its neighbors, promoting security and progress for the people of the region." [5] Allawi repeated the same objectives in his interview with Sir David Frost on BBC. [6] They are a tall order for a government that is scheduled to rule for six months amidst conditions of daily violence and widespread insecurity. However, he understood the Iraqi people badly needed an injection of hope.

Address to the Nation

In his address to the nation on June 4, Prime Minister Allawi focused again on the key issues that face his government – security, building of the infrastructure, the country's external debts, and, above all, national reconciliation. In that respect, he announced his willingness to coordinate with the political parties that opposed the previous regime and dissolve the militias and incorporate their members into the emerging Iraqi security forces - army, police, national guard, and intelligence. In the same speech, he promised to increase salaries and generally improve living standards through the sale of oil. He added that Iraq will not take any initiative for aggression against its neighbors. [7]

On June 7, Allawi announced an agreement with nine political parties and groups to dissolve their respective militias - to integrate into the army those who wish to do so and to pay pensions to those who opt otherwise. [8] Training will be offered to those who have chosen neither option. Not included in the deal is the young Shi'ite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr's militia known as Al-Mahdi Army, which remains a primary source of violence and instability.

The New Government and Muqtada Al-Sadr

Among the major sources of insecurity are the activities of Muqtada Al-Sadr's Al-Mahdi Army and the propensity of its leader for violent action in pursuit of his political objectives. Al-Sadr has already rejected the new government "to the day of resurrection." [9] The prime minister called on Al-Sadr to use "the language of civilized and rational dialogue" and expressed his regret that Al-Sadr has resorted to non-democratic method to mobilize the street in pursuit of his objectives. He warned that the Iraqi government "will act in accordance with the laws and will not permit actions in violation of the law." [10] Al-Sadr's recent qualified statement that he will support Dr. Allawi's government and that he will turn his militia into a political party that would compete in elections was welcomed by the Iraqi government. [11]

The New Government

Allawi has put together a balanced government comprising the key political and ethnic sectors of Iraq. Among its members are six women - a significant move in itself. It is also an interregnum government with huge political, economic, and social challenges, but a limited time horizon - its term shall end in early 2005 when a new government is expected to emerge following national elections. In the meantime, there is friction within the government. The Kurds, initially promised two so-called "sovereign cabinet posts," namely that of foreign affairs and defense, were given only one such post - foreign affairs. In lieu of the defense post, a Kurd, Barham Salih, was made deputy prime minister for security affairs, which may not amount to much. Hence, Mr. Barham has refused to assume the post until his responsibilities are defined. [12]

The Composition of the Government

The new Iraqi government comprises the president and the two vice presidents, the prime minister, the deputy prime minister, and 31 other ministers. The government is diverse in religious and ethnic composition:

Shi'ites: 16

Sunnis: 10

Kurds: 8

Turkeman: 1

Christian: 1

By all measures, it is a highly educated government. It includes 3 MDs, 17 PhDs, 7 MA/MScs, 2 people with law degrees, 3 Bas, and 4 unspecified, although two of the four are listed as trained engineers, including one who worked at the Boeing Corporation. In terms of the place of education, 19 members were trained in the U.K. and Europe (France, Germany, and the Czech Republic), 8 in the U.S., and 1 in Egypt. The average age of the 26 members whose ages were listed is 55, with the oldest at 84 and the youngest at 37. [13] Nine of the ministers have served in the outgoing government. [14]

There are other important characteristics to the new government. Three former Shi'ite ministers with strong religious orientation were removed. These were Haidar Al-Abadi, the minister of communications, Fadhel Abbas, the minister of health, and Baqir Al-Zubaidi, the minister of housing. All of them had turned their ministries into "fortresses of extremism" by demanding that men grow beards and women wear veils. By contrast, the new government includes a number of former Ba'thists, including the minister of defense and the minister of higher education. [15] The government is very much a secular one, so much so that one of the four leading Ayatollahs in Iraq, the Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Taqi Al-Madrasi, noted "the absence of the more popular Islamic current in the government." [16]

The Security Council and the New Government

The establishment of the new government was bolstered by the Security Council Resolution No. 1546 of June 8, which reaffirmed "the independence, sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity of Iraq," as well as "the right of the Iraqi people freely to determine their own political future and control their own natural resources." However, at the insistence of Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, the resolution made no reference to the Transitional Administration Law, which guaranteed the Kurds a federation that would have preserved the autonomous status that they have earned since 1991.

The Kurds threatened to withdraw from the government but eventually decided to stay because both the president of Iraq and the prime minister reaffirmed their commitment to "a federal, democratic, pluralistic and unified Iraq." More significantly, the prime minister excluded the dissolution of the Peshmarga, or the Kurdish militia, from the agreement which he had announced just a couple of days earlier. In an interview with the Iraqi daily Al-Mashriq, Allawi said "Kurdish Peshmerga does not fall under the definition of a militia because it was part of the revolutionary system that liberated Iraq and it was part of the self-government of Kurdistan." [17] As part of a package deal, the Kurdish parliament endorsed the Security Council resolution. [18]

Security and the Future of the Government

Security is the ultimate test for the success of Dr. Allawi's government. The greater the security the faster the reconstruction programs will advance. By contrast, the lower the security the slower the pace of reconstruction will be, which is sine qua non for resolving the pressing economic problems, particularly rebuilding the infrastructure, rehabilitating roads and critical installations, providing employment, and alleviating large-scale poverty.

The government must also contend with two hostile neighbors - Iran in the east and Syria in the west. While they both share hostility toward the new Iraqi regime, and are known to have maintained porous borders with Iraq that enabled the infiltration of terrorists and saboteurs into the country, the underlying motives for their hostility may be different. Iran would welcome anarchy in Iraq, even the breakup of the country, to expand its hegemony over the Shi'a majority of Iraq. Moreover, nothing would be more pleasing for Iran than the prospect of at least exercising influence on, if not total control of, the energy policy of their oil-rich neighbor. For Syria, the hostility stems largely from its fear that a successful experiment in democracy in Iraq will shed light on the dark side of its authoritarian regime and the bankruptcy of its economic policy.


An Iraqi politician and newspaper columnist, Mish'an Al-Jabouri, wrote that Allawi "is a man who embodies the aspirations of the Iraqi Sunnis, Shi'a, and Kurds. He maintains good relations with everyone - he is a friend of the Syrians, ally of the Jordanians, welcomed in Egypt and Turkey, and supported by Saudi Arabia, in addition to his good relations with the British and the Americans." [19]

Everything that was written about Dr. Iyad Allawi would confirm these observations. Nevertheless, the odds against his government are significant, but not insurmountable, if it succeeds in establishing its legitimacy in the eyes of the Iraqis, who are alone capable of calming the resistance movement. It must also move fast enough to create the security forces needed to maintain peace and order and to ease out the multinational forces as quickly as possible, so that sovereignty will be viewed by the Iraqis as real, not illusory.

Transitional Government—Background and Ethnic affiliation
Shi'ite Members

Iyad Hashem Allawi: Prime Minister. Born in Baghdad in 1946. Medical degree from University of Baghdad and advanced medical degree from the U.K. Secretary-General of the National Accord Party.

Ibrahim Al-Ja'fari: Vice President. Born in Karbala in 1947. Medical degree from Mosul University. Member of the Da'wa Party. The party, the oldest Islamic movement in Iraq, was founded in the late 1950s and is based on the ideology of reforming Islamic thought and modernizing religious institutions. The party was banned by Saddam Hussein in 1980, forcing Al-Ja'fari to move to Iran, and then to London in 1989.

Muhammad Ali Al-Hakim: Minister of Communications. Born in Najaf in 1952. Masters degree in computer sciences from University of Birmingham and a Ph.D. in information management from the University of Southern California. He was a global director for Nortel Networks and Cambridge Technology. Participated in the "Future of Iraq Project" under the auspices of the U.S. State Department.

Hazem Sha'lan: Minister of Defense. Born in Diwaniyah in 1956. A Sheikh of the Ghazal Tribe. He earned a degree in economics and management from Baghdad University. Managed a successful real estate firm in the U.K. Former Ba'thist and governor of Al-Qadisiyya (Diwaniya).

Sami Al-Mudhaffar: Minister of Education. Born in Basra in 1940. PhD. in biochemistry from Virginia Tech University. Former professor and president of Baghdad University. Published 250 scientific papers.

'Adel Abd Al-Mahdi: Minister of Finance. Born in Baghdad in 1948. Ph.D. in economics from a French university. Member of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Sentenced to death by Saddam Hussein. Exiled in France. Most recent post: Head of the Institute of Islamic Studies in France.

Malek Dohan Al-Hassan: Minister of Justice. Born in Hilla in 1920. Doctorate in Law from a French university. Professor of Law at the University of Baghdad. Elected twice as member of parliament during the monarchy. A former minister of culture and information in 1967.

Thamer' Abbas Ghadhban: Minister of Oil. Born in Babil in 1945. He earned a bachelor's degree in geology from the University College in London, and his master's degree in petroleum reservoir engineering from Imperial College at the London University. He spent most of his professional career in the ministry of oil.

Wa'il Abd Al-Latif: Minister of State for the Provinces. Born in Basra in 1950, Law degree from the University of Baghdad. Served as a judge. Imprisoned by the Saddam regime. Elected governor of Basra and member of Iraq's Governing Council.

'Ali Faiq Al-Ghabban: Minister of Youth and Sport. Born in Baghdad in 1955. A degree in agricultural engineering from the University of Baghdad. Member of SCIRI. Former exile in Iran.

Mufeed Muhammad Jawad Al-Jaza'iri: Minister of Culture. Born in Madhatiya in 1939. Master's degree in journalism from Prague University. Worked as a journalist.

'Ala'udin Abd Al-Sahib Al-'Alwan: Minister of Health. Born in Baghdad in 1949. Medical degree from the University of Alexandria (Egypt) and post-graduate degrees from universities in the U.K. Served as a professor of medicine and dean at the University of Al-Mustansariya. Served in various capacities in the ministry of health and the ministry of higher education under the Saddam regime. Also served as head of the department of chronic and non-contagious diseases at the World Health Organization in Geneva.

Louay Hatem Sultan Al-Arris: Minister of Transportation. Born in 1952. An aircraft engineer at Boeing Corp. A former deputy mayor of Baghdad and director general of Iraqi Airways.

Sawsan Ali Majid Al-Sharifi: Minister of Agriculture. Born in 1956 in Baghdad. Masters and Ph.D. in Animal Breeding, Iowa State University. She has published numerous scientific papers in Iraqi and international journals.

Taher Khalaf Jabr Al-Bakaa: Minister of Higher Education. Born in Dhi Qar in1950. Doctorate in History from Baghdad University. President of Al-Mustansiriya University. Member of the Federation of Arab Historians and author of books on regional history.

Mahdi Al-Hafidh: Minister of Planning. PhD in economic sciences, Prague University. Worked at the United Nations Council for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva as director of private industry, subsequently director of regional industrial growth. A founding member of the Arab Organization for Human Rights.

Sunni Members

Sheikh Ghazi Ujail Al-Yawer: President of Iraq. [21]

Ayham Al-Samara'i: Minister of Electricity. PhD in engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology. Worked for 30 years at KCI, an electrical contractor, and later its executive director. For the last 12 years he participated in many of the meetings of the Iraqi opposition as an executive member of the Iraqi Middle Democratic Trend.

Mishkat Mu'min: Minister of Environment. Professor of Law at Baghdad University. She is active in women affairs.

Omar Al-Faruq Salim Al-Damluji: Minister of Housing and Construction. Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of Baghdad where he served as professor of civil engineering. Author of two books on the soil mechanics. Registered engineer in the American Engineers Society. Visiting professor at Hanover University (Germany) and City University of London.

Hajem Al-Hassani: Minister of Industry and Minerals. Born in 1954 in Kirkuk. Graduated from Mosul University. Moved to the U.S. to study international trade at the University of Nebraska and earned a Ph.D. in industrial organization from the University of Connecticut. He was a director at American Investment and Trading Company in Los Angeles. A former official spokesman of the Iraqi Islamic Party.

Fallah Al-Naqib: Minister of Interior. Born in Samaraa in 1954 to a military family. His father served as Chief of Staff in the 1960s. Trained in the United States in civil engineering. Recently Governor of Salah-Al-Din Province.

Leila Abd Al-Latif: Minster of Labor and Social Affairs. Biography not available.

Qassim Daoud: Minister of State. Born in Hilla in 1949. Earned a Ph.D. from the University of Wales in microbiology and environment. He worked as a scientist in the United Arab Emirates and was the General-Secretary for the Iraqi Democratic Movement.

'Adnan Al-Janabi: State Minister. BA in economics from University of London and M.Sc. in Petroleum Engineering from Loughborough University in U.K. Head of oil marketing in 1970s. Elected Member of National Assembly in 1996. He heads the 750,000 Janabi Tribe.

Muhammad Mustafa Al-Jibouri: Minister of Trade. Born in Mosul in 1949. Graduated from Mosul University in 1974. Studied economics at Glasgow University in 1983. He worked in the State Oil Marketing Organization.

Kurdish Members

Rowsch Nouri Shaways: Vice President. Born in 1947. Doctorate in engineering from a German university. President of the Kurdish National Assembly. He was prime minister of the Arbil-based Kurdistan regional government 1996-1999.

Barham Salih: Deputy Prime Minister for Security Affairs. Born in 1960 in Kurdistan. Ph.D. in Statistics and Computer Modeling from the University of Liverpool. Member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and formerly representative of the National Federation of Kurdistan in London and Washington.

Hoshyar Mahmood Muhammad Zibari: Foreign Minister. Born in Aqra in 1953. B.A. in political science from University of Amman and M.A. from University of Essex in U.K. Member of the political bureau of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan and representative of the party in Europe in 1988-2003.

Bakhtiar Amin: Minister for Human Rights. Born in Kirkuk. Ph.D. in political geography from the Sorbonne University in France. Secretary-General of the Kurdish Institute in Paris and advisor to Mrs. Danielle Mitterrand in the French Foundation for Liberty and Director-General of the Coalition for Justice in Paris and Washington.

Nasreen Mustapha Berwari: Minister of Public Works. Born in Baghdad in 1967. A degree in architectural engineering and urban planning from the University of Baghdad and a Master's degree in policy and management from Harvard University. Served as Minister of Reconstruction and Development in the Kurdistan Government.

Narmin Othman: Minister of State for Women. Formerly minister of social affairs in the Government of Kurdistan. Member of the Peshmerga (Kurdish Militia).

Mamu Farham Othman: State Minister. Born in 1951. Linguistic researcher. Ph.D in English and German philosophy.

Abd Al-Latif Jamal Rashid: Minister of Water Resources. Born in Sulaimaniya in 1944. Doctorate in engineering from Manchester University. He is a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers and a member of the International Commission for Irrigation and Drainage. Consulted in several countries.

Turkeman Member

Rashad Mundan Omar: Minister of Science and Technology, Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of London in 1977. Worked in the Ministry of Oil through 1999.

Christian Member

Pascal Isho Warda: Minister of Iraqis in Exile and Migration. Born in Duhok in 1961. She holds a degree from the Human Rights Institute at the University of Lyon, France. Ms. Warda is president of the Assyrian Women's Union in Baghdad.

Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli is Senior Analyst of MEMRI's Middle East Economic Studies Program.

[1] Baghdad (Iraq), May 30, 2004.


[3] Al-Hayat (London), May 30 & May 31, 2004.

[4] Al-Hayat (London), June 4, 2004.

[5] London Times, June 1, 2004.

[6] BBC News, June 6, 2004.

[7] Al-Sabah (Baghdad), June 5, 2004.

[8] Al-Sabah Al-Jadid (Iraq), June 8, 2004.

[9] Al-Qabas (Kuwait), June 4, 2004.

[10] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 8, 2004.

[11] Al-Sabah Al-Jadid (Iraq), June 13, 2004.

[12] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 11, 2004.

[13] See attached annex.

[14] Al-Zaman (Iraq), June 7, 2004.

[15] Al-Hayat London), June 2, 2004.

[16] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 4, 2004.

[17] Al-Mashriq (Baghdad), June 12, 2002.

[18] Al-Sabah (Baghdad), June 13, 2004.

[19] Al-Ittijah Al-Aakher, June 5, 2004.

[20] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 2, 2004 & Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), June 2, 2004, and Coalition Provisional Authority.

[21] See The New Leaders of Iraq (1): Interim President Sheikh Ghazi Al-Yawer, June 10, 2004, 'The New Leaders of Iraq (1): Interim President Sheikh Ghazi Al-Yawer.'

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