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Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer

Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer

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Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawar is an Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

i political figure. He was a Vice President of Iraq
Vice President of Iraq
As currently constituted, the state of Iraq has two vice presidents or deputy presidents. The office of Vice President is largely ceremonial but prestigious...

 under the Iraqi Transitional Government
Iraqi Transitional Government
The Iraqi Transitional Government was the government of Iraq from May 3rd, 2005, when it replaced the Iraqi Interim Government, until May 20th, 2006, when it was replaced by the first permanent government....

 from 2005 to 2006, and was Acting President of Iraq
President of Iraq
The President of Iraq is the head of state of Iraq and "safeguards the commitment to the Constitution and the preservation of Iraq's independence, sovereignty, unity, the security of its territories in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution." The President is elected by the Council of...

 under the Iraqi Interim Government
Iraqi Interim Government
The Iraqi Interim Government was created by the United States and its coalition allies as a caretaker government to govern Iraq until the Iraqi Transitional Government was installed following the Iraqi National Assembly election conducted on January 30, 2005...

 from 2004 to 2005.

Al-Yawar was originally a member of the Iraqi Governing Council
Iraqi Governing Council
The Iraqi Governing Council was the provisional government of Iraq from July 13, 2003 to June 1, 2004. It was established by and served under the United States-led Coalition Provisional Authority...

 created following the US
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

-led 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

. 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
Coalition Provisional Authority
The Coalition Provisional Authority was established as a transitional government following the invasion of Iraq by the United States and its allies, members of the Multi-National Force – Iraq which was formed to oust the government of Saddam Hussein in 2003...



Born in Mosul, Iraq in 1958, al-Yawar completed his primary and secondary education in Iraq. He then went on to study in King Fahd University for Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) for two years before completing his BSc in the UK. Al-Yawar enrolled in an English language program at American University
American University
American University is a private, Methodist, liberal arts, and research university in Washington, D.C. The university was chartered by an Act of Congress on December 5, 1892 as "The American University", which was approved by President Benjamin Harrison on February 24, 1893...

 in Washington, D.C. and then received his masters
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

 from George Washington University
George Washington University
The George Washington University is a private, coeducational comprehensive university located in Washington, D.C. in the United States...

 in the mid 1980s.

The House of Yawar has been the head of the Shammar
The tribe of Shammar is one of the largest tribes of Nejd-Saudi Arabia, with an estimated 1 million in Iraq, over 2.5 million in Saudi Arabia , a Kuwaiti population of around 100,000, a Syrian population is thought to exceed 1 million and with an unknown number in Jordan...

 tribe for centuries. The Shammar is one of Iraq's biggest tribal confederations with more than 1.5 million people covering vast territories from Iraq into Syria and Saudi Arabia. Composed of both Sunnis and Shiites, the Shammar are generally religiously and politically moderate. "My mother would take me to visit the holy shrines in Najaf
Najaf is a city in Iraq about 160 km south of Baghdad. Its estimated population in 2008 is 560,000 people. It is the capital of Najaf Governorate...

 and Karbala
Karbala is a city in Iraq, located about southwest of Baghdad. Karbala is the capital of Karbala Governorate, and has an estimated population of 572,300 people ....

, in addition to the Sunni mosques in Baghdad and St. Mary's Church," Yawar told the Iraqi paper Al-Zaman.

His uncle, Sheikh Mohsen Ajil al-Yawar, is the current head of the Shammar tribe and his grandfather played a role in guiding Iraq towards independence in the 1920s, later serving as a member of the king's parliament. When Mr. al-Yawar's uncle refused to sanction Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 the family went into exile in London.
Al-Yawar, who was then residing in Saudi Arabia, eschewed politics and instead established a successful telecommunications company. Sheikh Ghazi spent much of the past two decades in Saudi Arabia, where he became vice president of a telecommunications company.


After the toppling of Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

 in April 2003, Sheikh al-Yawar returned to Iraq at the request of his uncle, Mohsen al-Yawar. Following the assassination of Iraqi Governing Council President Ezzedine Salim
Ezzedine Salim
Ezzedine Salim, , also known as Abdelzahra Othman Mohammed , was an Iraqi politician.-Biography:...

 on May 17, 2004, Sheikh Ghazi assumed the May rotating presidency for the Governing Council.
During his term as interim president, leading up to the dissolution of the Governing Council, al-Yawar spoke out against the misperception that Arab Sunnis in Iraq enjoyed huge privileges under Saddam Hussein's rule. Al-Yawar adamantly affirmed that "Saddam did not believe in any religion or sect – his injustices were inflicted on Sunnis, Shi'is, Kurds and all other national groups and sects. He did not differentiate between one Iraqi and another."

Al-Yawar 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
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

, and occupy the largely symbolic post of "State President" of Iraq. Adnan Pachachi
Adnan Pachachi
Adnan al-Pachachi or Adnan Muzahim Amin al-Pachachi is a veteran Iraqi politician and diplomat. Pachachi was Iraq's Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 1959 to 1965 and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq from 1965 to 1967; he again served as Permanent Representative to the UN...

 was preferred by the U.S., but most members of the Governing Council had favored Mr. al-Yawar. Members of the council had accused the U.S. of trying to impose a new Iraqi president against their wishes. The dispute delayed the announcement of the interim government that would lead Iraq from the end of the month, but on June 1, 2004 the special envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi
Lakhdar Brahimi
Lakhdar Brahimi is a veteran United Nations envoy and advisor. He retired from his duties at the end of 2005. Brahimi is a member of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, the first global initiative to focus specifically on the link between exclusion, poverty and law...

, confirmed Sheikh Ghazi's appointment as interim president.
Ayad Allawi, who served as Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Iraq
The Prime Minister of Iraq is Iraq's head of government. Prime Minister was originally an appointed office, subsidiary to the head of state, and the nominal leader of the Iraqi parliament. Under the newly adopted constitution the Prime Minister is to be the country's active executive authority...

 during al-Yawar's presidency, is a Shiite Muslim. The two collectively represented Iraq's largest Muslim sects. Al-Yawar and the Iraqi Interim Government
Iraqi Interim Government
The Iraqi Interim Government was created by the United States and its coalition allies as a caretaker government to govern Iraq until the Iraqi Transitional Government was installed following the Iraqi National Assembly election conducted on January 30, 2005...

 were sworn in on June 28, 2004, when the U.S.-led coalition handed over power two days early.

Sheikh Ghazi's selection as interim president, at first resisted and then accepted by the American administrators in Iraq, is further recognition of the tribal revival at this time. Although this post was described as largely ceremonial, it in fact exercised both symbolic and political sway. As a Sunni tribal leader, he reassured his fellow Sunnis while also representing a familiar type of authority figure for the tribal Kurds, and embodying traditional values esteemed by Shiite religious figures. Faleh A. Jabar, a senior fellow at the United States Institute of Peace
United States Institute of Peace
The United States Institute of Peace was created by Congress as a non-partisan, federal institution that works to prevent or end violent conflict around the world...

 in Washington, called Sheikh Ghazi "a tribal figure who knows modern ways, not a modern leader who knows tribal ways. He is clever, cautious in choosing words and values the seniority of age, a supreme value in tribal people. Being a sheikh, you have to give the lead to each and everyone except yourself."

L. Paul Bremer
L. Paul Bremer
Lewis Paul "Jerry" Bremer III is an American diplomat. He is most notable for being the U.S. Administrator to Iraq charged with overseeing the country's occupation after the 2003 invasion. In his role as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, he reported primarily to the U.S. Secretary of...

 in his memoirs indicated that George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 himself urged the appointment of al-Yawar, as Bush "had been favorably impressed by Ghazi's open thanks to the Coalition for overthrowing Saddam and by his determination to continue the process to sovereignty and eventual democracy."
But to many Iraqis, Sheikh al-Yawar was part of the Governing Council, which had lost virtually all legitimacy after its inability to solve the military and political crisis that had erupted across Iraq in April. Al-Yawar had been openly critical of the sectarian Governing Council, often acknowledging that the council was more focused on survival than on serious issues, adding only to the country's problems. "We sit in the council while the country is burning and argue over procedure," Sheikh Ghazi told the Christian Science Monitor. "We're like the Byzantines in Constantinople, debating whether angels are male or female with the barbarians at the gate."
Like Ayad Allawi, the prime minister, and many of the council members appointed to new jobs in the cabinet and ministries, he faced a struggle to live down his role as a former council member.

Al-Yawar proved determined not to appear as a puppet of the Coalition forces. He pulled no punches when criticizing the United States for the dismal lack of security in Iraq. "We blame the United States 100 percent for the security in Iraq," he said. "They occupied the country, disbanded the security agencies and for 10 months left Iraq's borders open for anyone to come in without a visa or even a passport."
In addition, Sheikh Ghazi condoned the U.S. for remaining in Saddam Hussein's former Republican Palace
Republican Palace
The Republican Palace is a palace in Baghdad, Iraq, constructed on the orders of King Faisal II. It was Saddam Hussein's preferred place to meet visiting heads of state. The United States spared the palace during its shock and awe raid during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, in the belief that it might...

 presidential compound and converting it to their embassy, as some reports suggested. "This is like someone who pokes his finger in another's eye," he declared.
As the Coalition-led siege in Fallujah
Fallujah is a city in the Iraqi province of Al Anbar, located roughly west of Baghdad on the Euphrates. Fallujah dates from Babylonian times and was host to important Jewish academies for many centuries....

 peaked during his term as interim president, Sheikh Ghazi openly disparaged the assault that only a few months earlier led him to almost resign from the Governing Council in protest of the Coalition's actions. "I completely disagree with those who see a need to decide the [Fallujah] matter through military action," al-Yawar told Reuters. "The Coalition's handling of the crisis is wrong. It's like someone who fired bullets at his horse's head just because a fly landed on it; the horse died and the fly went away." He condemned the actions of the occupation forces, holding them completely accountable (according to the UN resolution) for delivering safety and aid to the Iraqi people.


Al-Yawar held the position as President of Iraq in an interim capacity until an elected Iraqi Parliament could select a new permanent president, as mandated in the Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period
Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period
The Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period , was Iraq's provisional constitution following the 2003 Iraq War. It was signed on March 8, 2004 by the Iraqi Governing Council...

. This happened on April 6, 2005 when Jalal Talabani
Jalal Talabani
Jalal Talabani is the sixth and current President of Iraq, a leading Kurdish politician. He is the first non-Arab president of Iraq, although Abdul Kareem Qasim was half Kurdish....

 was elected president, and al-Yawar, after much negotiation, accepted to serve as one of Iraq's two vice-presidents.

As Vice-President, Sheikh Ghazi addressed some of the many challenges faced by the new government. Due to the boycott of elections by Iraqi Sunnis, al-Yawar stood by his conviction that the new constitution should not be written in light of the past elections that created a unique situation – a complete sector of the Iraqi people were unable to partake in them. The election results were to be taken as the basis for a balance in drafting a constitution for all Iraqis. The constitution, as al-Yawar said in an interview with Alsharq Al-Awsat, "was meant to be always for all the Iraqis and to look after them all and not be 100 percent the whims of a group, religion, or ideology but must have more common ground and denominators for the Iraqi people." At this time, al-Yawar called for a separation between religion and politics, believing religion is too sacred to be polluted by politics. "Religion directs the country towards the public welfare and love while politics is much planning, maneuvers, prevarications and compromises and it is inappropriate for it to put on the cloak of religion." http://www.redorbit.com/news/international/221992/iraqi_vicepresident_criticizes_draft_constitution_demands_for_federations

In the January 2005 Iraqi election for the Iraqi National Assembly he was the leader of The Iraqis
The Iraqis
The Iraqis is an Iraqi political party led by Vice-President Ghazi al-Yawar. It was the largest Sunni party to participate in the January 2005 Iraqi election. During the election campaign, al-Yawar was President of Iraq, a then largely symbolic but still prominent position. The party consists of...

 (Iraqioun), the largest secular list of candidates with a Sunni leader. His list won about 150,000 votes, 2% of the national vote. Al-Yawar, one of only a handful of Sunni leaders that did not boycott the elections and the only Sunni figure of national standing who appeared to have secured a place in the assembly, took five seats in Parliament.
In the January 2006 election he joined the Iraqi National List
Iraqi National List
The Iraqi National List is a coalition of Iraqi political parties who ran in the December 2005 Iraqi elections and got 8.0% of the vote and 25 out of 275 seats...

 coalition with other secular politicians Ayad Allawi and Adnan Pachachi
Adnan Pachachi
Adnan al-Pachachi or Adnan Muzahim Amin al-Pachachi is a veteran Iraqi politician and diplomat. Pachachi was Iraq's Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 1959 to 1965 and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq from 1965 to 1967; he again served as Permanent Representative to the UN...

. He then became a member of the Iraqi Parliament and after a short period of time resigned from the Parliament to return to his private life. Although it's hard to find research or polling on the subject, a few Sunni commentators, such as "Riverbend" of Baghdad Burning, suggest that Ghazi al-Yawer's poor showing in the elections was largely because he is held in low esteem by common Sunni Iraqis, being called by the epithet "al Baqara al dhahika", which translates roughly as "the laughing cow".

External links