Jalal Talabani’s mediating skills will be much missed

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FUNERALS can bring estranged parties together. And if anyone’s could heal the fissure between leaders in Baghdad and those in Iraq’s Kurdish enclave, that of Jalal Talabani should be the one. Mr Talabani died on October 3rd in Germany, aged 83. For 60 years “Mam”, or uncle, as Arabs and Kurds alike called him, made a career out of bridging differences.

After Saddam Hussein fell in 2003, he became Iraq’s first non-Arab president. A Sunni preacher’s son, he kept excellent relations with Shia politicians, particularly in Iran. He kissed both Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and America’s secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. For years he battled his Kurdish rival, Masoud Barzani, pitting his humble origins and leftist leanings against the Barzanis’ tribal heft. (In 1996 Mr Barzani even summoned Saddam’s tanks to invade Mr Talabani’s eastern fief, Sulaymaniyah.) But in recent years Mr Talabani, ever the conciliator, endorsed Mr Barzani’s extended presidency of the…

Source: Newslatest