|Biographical detail : ||Exile returned to rise to power
Nouri al-Maliki fled Iraq in 1979 to escape Saddam’s henchmen, who he believed had orders to execute him. For the next 24 years, al-Maliki remained an exiled dissident, travelling between Jordan, Syria and Iran.
He settled first in Amman and then Syria, where he formed the Dawa party newspaper, al-Mawqif. In 1982, al-Maliki moved to Iran, where he stayed throughout the remainder of the Iran-Iraq war and two years beyond. In 1990, he returned to Damascus, where he stayed until the fall of Baghdad in April 2003.
Al-Maliki returned to Baghdad along with a host of other exiles who had all been courted by Washington’s powerbrokers throughout their years in exile. Now he has formed an enduring power base and has become more adept playing both sides of the relationship between Washington and Tehran.
One of his first roles on return was to lead the de-Baathification commission, which ousted Saddam loyalists from all positions of influence in Iraq. Al-Maliki became a senior member that drafted Iraq’s new constitution. He became prime minister in April 2006.
On 30 December 2006, al-Maliki signed the death warrant for Saddam Hussein and refused a plea for a stay of execution by the lawyers.
Throughout 2007-08, his leadership consolidated and his party performed strongly. He is now favoured to be returned as prime minister in a national poll set for later in 2009.
Nouri Kamel al-Maliki was born in Abu Gharaq, between Karbala and Al Hillah, in the heartland of Iraq, into the family of poets and clerics. He took a master in Arabic literature from Baghdad University and joined the Islamic Dawa party in the 1960s. Dawa was a centrepiece of his life in exile and has remained at the heart of his power base since his return.