IRAQ: Cabinet Ministers

May 2, 2005

Backgrounder
Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

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Who are the cabinet ministers in the new Iraqi government?

Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari has filled all but one of the 32 ministerial cabinet slots and named three of his four deputy prime ministers. The new government was approved amid a wave of renewed violence that has left more than 400 dead since the end of April.

What is the makeup of the new cabinet?

It is religiously and ethnically diverse. The largest number of appointments went to Shiites, who make up some 60 percent of the Iraqi population and hold 140 seats in the 275-member National Assembly, which approves the cabinet. Kurds, some 20 percent of Iraq’s population, hold 75 parliamentary seats and won the second largest number of appointments. Sunni Arabs, some 15 percent to 20 percent of the population, won only 17 parliamentary seats because of their low turnout in the January 30 elections. However, to better reflect the country’s ethnic and religious balance--and to help curb the Sunni insurgency--Prime Minister Jaafari awarded nearly one-fifth of his cabinet posts to Sunni Arabs. The cabinet, once finalized, will include 17 Shiites, nine Kurds, eight Sunnis, two Turkmen, and one Christian. At least six of the cabinet members will be women.

Who holds the top posts?

Prime minister: Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

The prime minister served as the first president of the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), the 25-member governing body appointed by the U.S.-led occupation government in July 2003. Born in Karbala, Jaafari is the chief spokesman for the Dawa Party, a Shiite Islamist group that was founded in Iraq in the late 1950s and was later banned by Saddam Hussein’s regime. He earned his medical degree from Mosul University. Jaafari fled Iraq for Iran in 1980, then moved to London in 1989.

Deputy prime minister: Ahmed Chalabi.

A secular Shiite and former Pentagon favorite, Chalabi, 60, fell out of favor with Washington over U.S. claims he provided inaccurate prewar intelligence and passed U.S. secrets to Iran. Chalabi denies any wrongdoing. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)-educated mathematician who spent years in exile in the Middle East and United States, Chalabi has made a political comeback in Iraq. He played a pivotal role in forming the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), a coalition of Shiites that won just over half the National Assembly seats in the January 30 elections. But he remains unpopular with Sunni leaders because he opposes allowing former senior members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party to have roles in the new government.

Deputy prime minister: Rowsch Shaways.

Shaways served as president of the Kurdistan National Assembly in northern Iraq. He earned a doctorate in engineering in Germany and returned to Iraq in 1975 to join the Kurdish resistance to Saddam Hussein. A senior member of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), one of the two main Kurdish political parties, he became the deputy prime minister of the joint Kurdistan regional government in 1992, after the withdrawal of Saddam Hussein’s forces from the Kurdish-held area protected by a U.S.- and British-enforced no-fly zone.

Deputy prime minister:

Abed Mutlak al-Jiburi. A Sunni native of Kirkuk, Jiburi is a former major general of the 16th Division of Saddam Hussein’s army, who gained recognition for his military skills during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War and later served as dean of Iraq’s Military Academy. He holds degrees in military engineering and law.

Minister of defense: Sadoon al-Dulaimi.

A Sunni native of Ramadi, Dulaimi was a former officer in Saddam Hussein’s General Security Directorate, but faced a death sentence in the late 1980s on allegations he participated in a failed assassination plot against Saddam Hussein. He fled Iraq for Britain, where he earned his doctorate in socio-psychology and joined the Iraqi opposition in 1990. After Saddam’s regime fell in 2003, he returned to Iraq to run the Iraq Center for Research and Strategic Studies. Dulaimi, whose organization has held polls showing Iraqis’ unfavorable views of the U.S. presence in their country, has tribal ties to al-Anbar province, a rebellious Sunni stronghold in western Iraq.

Minister of oil: Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum.

The son of Mohammed al-Uloum, a prominent opposition Shiite cleric, Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum was oil minister under the IGC. Uloum holds a doctorate in oil engineering from the University of New Mexico and has worked on oil projects in the United Kingdom, the United States, and North Africa.

Minister of interior: Bayan Jabr.

A Shiite activist from Maisan province, exiled by Saddam Hussein’s regime during the 1970s, Jabr later joined the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, an anti-Saddam group formed in Iran in 1982. He was the organization’s representative in Syria during the 1990s. Jabr served as housing minister in Iraq’s first interim government, led by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. He holds a degree in civil engineering from Baghdad University.

Minister of foreign affairs: Hoshyar Zebari.

A leading figure in the KDP, Zebari, a Kurd, was an opposition leader and KDP spokesman in the United States and Britain. Since June 2004, he has been interim foreign minister. He holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Essex in Britain.

Minister of health: Abdul Mutalib Mohammed Ali.

Born in Baghdad, Ali, a Shiite, earned his bachelor’s degree in medicine from Baghdad University in 1974. He was a major in the first Gulf War (1990-91) and later became Iraq’s commercial attache to Germany. Ali is linked to Muqtada al-Sadr, the anti-U.S. Shiite cleric who heads the Imam Mehdi Army, an armed militia that has intermittently waged an insurgency against U.S. forces in Iraq.

Who are the other ministers?

Minister of agriculture: Ali al-Bahadli.

Born in 1943, Bahadli, a Shiite, received his doctorate in agriculture from the University of California. He has worked as a professor at several universities, including Baghdad University, and has been active in the Sigma Association for American Science at the University of California, Davis.

Minister of communication: Juan Massum.

A female member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the other main Iraqi Kurdish political party, Massum has been active in Kurdistan’s human-rights community. She is the daughter of Fuad Massum, the former speaker of Iraq’s interim parliament under Allawi’s government, and holds a doctorate in communications from King’s College in London.

Minister of culture: Nuri Farhan al-Rawi.

Born in the town of Rawa in western Iraq, Rawi, a Sunni, graduated from the police academy in 1966 before becoming a member of the opposition during Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Minister of education: Abdul Falal Hassan.

Born in Basra, Hassan, a Shiite, holds a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Wales. He also served as president of the Al-Mashriq Center, a London-based polling center.

Minister of electricity: Mohsen Shalash.

A Shiite lawmaker unaffiliated with a political party, Shalash holds a doctorate in power-system analysis and control from the University of Manchester.

Minister of environment/acting minister of human rights: Narmin Othman.

A Kurd and PUK member, Othman is a former minister of social affairs in the Kurdistan regional government. Before joining government service, she was a member of the peshmerga, a military force that has fought for Kurdish independence since the 1920s. She later served as Iraq’s interim minister for women’s affairs.

Minister of higher education: Sami al-Mudhaffar.

Born in Basra, Mudhaffar, a Shiite, received his bachelor’s degree in science from Baghdad University and his doctorate from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and has worked as a senior biochemist in Iraq. From 1968 to 2000, he was a lecturer at the University of Basra and Baghdad University and has published more than 250 scientific papers. Mudhaffar, 65, served as education minister in Iraq’s interim government and, in 2003, was president of Baghdad University.

Minister of housing: Jassim Mohammed Jafar.

Born in a town south of Tikrit called Tuzkhurmatu, Jafar, a Turkman, holds a degree in civil engineering from Salahaddin University and is founder of the Turkmen Islamic Union, one of Iraq’s leading Turkmen political organizations. After being sentenced to death for anti-Baath Party activities in 1981, he fled to Kurdistan.

Minister of industry: Osama al-Najeifi.

Born in Mosul, Najeifi, a Sunni Arab, has been involved in constructing Iraqi power stations. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

Minister of justice: Abdul Hussein Shandal.

Born in Baghdad, Shandal, a Sunni, holds a degree in law and served as president of Baghdad’s special-crimes and appellate courts during the Baath regime.

Minister of labor and social affairs: Idris Hadi.

A KDP member, Hadi was a human rights and communications minister in Kurdistan’s regional government. He later served in Iraqi Kurdistan as minister of transportation from 1992 to 1996, minister of energy in 1996, and minister of municipalities in 1998. In 1999, he was president of Salahaddin University, located in Iraqi Kurdistan. Hadi holds a doctorate in engineering and communications from Leningrad University in the former Soviet Union.

Minister of migration and displacement:

Suhaila Abed Jaafar. Born in Baghdad, Jaafar is a Faili Kurd, a group of Shiite Kurds who live mostly along the Iraq-Iran border. She earned a degree in law from Baghdad University in 1987, has worked as a lawyer for the state and private sector, and is active with human-rights organizations.

Minister of national-security affairs:

Abdul Karim al-Anizi. Born in 1954, Anizi, a Shiite, is a leading member of the Dawa party, for which he handles security and administrative issues. He earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Baghdad University in 1976.

Minister of planning: Barham Salih.

A Kurd who served as deputy to outgoing Prime Minister Allawi, Salih, 44, was the prime minister of the Sulaimaniya region in Iraqi Kurdistan. Born in northern Iraq, he joined the PUK in 1976, and was arrested twice by the Iraqi secret police. After fleeing in 1979, he became the PUK’s spokesman in London and, later, in Washington, D.C. He holds a doctorate in statistics and computer modeling from the University of Liverpool.

Minister of public works: Nesreen Berwari.

A Kurd and KDP member who also served as public works minister in the interim government, Berwari studied at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She is the former minister of reconstruction and development for the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Minister of science and technology: Bassema Yusuf Butrus.

Butrus, an Assyrian Christian from Kurdistan, is a professor of science at Salahaddin University, where she earned her master’s degree in biochemistry in 1990. She is a human-rights activist in Kurdistan as well as a member of Caritas , a Catholic humanitarian organization.

Minister of state for civil society affairs: Ala Habib Kadhem.

Born in Baghdad, Kadhem, a Shiite, formerly worked in the private sector in Germany. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Baghdad University.

Minister of state for National Assembly affairs: Safaeddin Mohammed Safi.

Born in Basra, Safi was a Shiite member of the constitutional committee of the Iraqi Governing Council. He earned a law degree from the University of Kuwait in 1978 and a doctorate in international law from Ein Shams University in Egypt before working in the private sector.

Minister of state for provinces: Saad Naif al-Hardan.

A Sunni sheikh and leader of the al-Dulaimi tribe, Hardan is from the village of Albu Aitha, located between Ramadi and Fallujah in the hotbed of insurgent resistance known as the Sunni triangle. Hardan, 45, was arrested by U.S. soldiers in July 2003 sweep of the region and held in prison for 12 days.

Minister of trade: Abdul Basit Karim Molud.

A PUK member since 1983 and former legal adviser to Barham Salih, Molud was one of the leading organizers of the peshmerga . He holds a bachelor’s degree in commercial law.

Minister of state for tourism and archaeology: Hashem al-Hashimi.

Born in Baghdad in 1960, Hashimi has been a leader of the Fadhila Party, a moderate Shiite group that is against U.S. occupation. He also served as a brigadier in the Iraqi army. Hashimi earned degrees in electrical engineering from the Technical University of Baghdad in 1979 and computer science from Baghdad University in 2004.

Minister of state for women: Azhar al-Sheikh.

Born in Baghdad in 1963, Sheikh, a Sunni, earned her doctorate in constitutional law from Baghdad University and was a lecturer at the university’s college of political science. A women’s-rights activist for a number of civil-society organizations, she participated in the Independent Electoral Commission, the body established to supervise Iraq’s January 30 parliamentary elections.

Minister of trade: Abdul Basit Karim Molud.

A PUK member since 1983 and former legal adviser to Barham Salih, Molud was one of the leading organizers of the peshmerga . He holds a bachelor’s degree in commercial law and has worked as a lecturer at the University of Sulaimaniya’s law school.

Minister of transportation: Salaam al-Maliki.

A Shiite, Maliki is the former deputy governor of Basra for administrative affairs and a member of Muqtada al-Sadr’s political movement. In August 2004, Maliki threatened to shut down Basra’s port and halt oil exports to protest the U.S.-led military campaign against Sadr’s forces in Najaf. He also called on Shiites in several southern cities— Kut, Basra, Amara, and Nasiriya--to secede from Allawi’s Baghdad-based interim government and form their own autonomous region.

Minister of water resources: Abdul-Latif Rashid.

A senior member and U.K. representative of the PUK, Dr. Rashid was aleading figure in the coalition of political opposition groups to the Baathist regime. He has worked in the areas of irrigation and drainage, water-control engineering, and agricultural development.

Minister of youth and sport: Taleb Aziz Zayani.

A Shiite, Zayani has been active in sports and education and is a member of the Iraqi Olympic Committee.

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