Profile: Shaikh Ghazi Ajil al-Yawir

Shaikh Ghazi al-Yawir, appointed on Tuesday as the interim president of occupied Iraq, is seen by many as the ideal compromise candidate in the fractured country.

Al-Yawir has good relations with Iraqi factions
Al-Yawir has good relations with Iraqi factions

Born in 1958 to a family that heads the Arab Shammar tribe, one of the largest in Iraq, al-Yawir claims ties with the two biggest communities, the Arab Sunnis and Shia.

While Shammar is mainly a Sunni Muslim tribe, extending beyond the borders of Iraq to Jordan, Syria, and the Arabian Peninsula, it also consists of some Shia clans.

Hailing from the Arab northern city of Mosul, al-Yawir also says he enjoys good relations with Kurds and that his mother taught him respect for Shia Muslims as well as Christians.

Al-Yawir left Iraq for Saudi Arabia in the mid-1980s, studying there and later in the US, before returning to Saudi Arabia 15 years ago to establish a successful telecommunications business. He was not known to be active among exiles opposed to Saddam Hussein.

He returned to Iraq on 4 June 2003 nearly two months after the occupation, being appointed to the US-sponsored Iraq Governing Council.

He became its president after his predecessor Izz al-Din Salim was killed in a bombing on 17 May 2004.

Respectable figure

His nomination as Iraq’s president has large support among Iraqis and Arabs. His open criticism of the US occupation has won him respect inside and outside Iraq. 

Al-Yawir was critical of US occupation military tactics during the fierce fighting in April in the western town of Falluja. 

He slammed the US military offensive in which hundreds of Iraqi civilians were killed because of air and artillery bombing. He appealed for an end to the bloodshed and tried to negotiate an end to the conflict.

Al-Yawir’s Iraqi roots are evident in his insistence on wearing traditional Arab dress.

He is also one of the very few IGC members who have persistently called for a major Arab role in occupied Iraq.

While other IGC members worked hard to undermine the role of the Arab League member states in the Iraq crisis, he called for an Arab force to participate in any Iraq peacekeeping mission.

Nevertheless, there are still Iraqis who regard him as a puppet of the US-led occupation authorities, which is enough to condemn him in many people’s eyes.  

Source : Al Jazeera

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