Fouad Massoum elected President


Iraq’s Parliament has elected Fouad Massoum of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) to be their next President.

Massoum was first elected and then nominated by the Kurdish faction by 30 votes against his fellow candidate Barham Salih’s 23 votes. Although there was one additional self-nomination the vote went ahead in parliament and Massoum received 211 votes to 17.

Muhammad Fouad Massoum Hawrami (76) is a founding member of the PUK has been a confidante of Jalal Talabani, Iraq’s current president. In 1958 he studied at Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, where he took degrees in Islamic studies, and later his PhD.

Formerly Massoum was a member of the Iraqi Communist Party, which he left in 1964 to join the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). He taught at the University of Basra and was in charge of the KDP’s military operations in Iraqi Kurdistan in the late 1960s.

Massoum was also a member of the negotiating team that drafted the Iraqi constitution after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. In 2004, he became the first speaker of the interim Iraqi parliament, and a year after he became an Iraqi MP. He is married with five daughters.

In a power sharing deal built into the constitution, the Speaker comes from the Sunni Muslim faction, the President from the Kurdish faction and the Prime Minister from the majority Shia Muslim faction.

President Fouad Massoum will now have the onerous task of calling on someone to form a government as the Prime Minister. Although incumbent Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki wants to serve a third term he is now deeply unpopular with a number of groups within parliament and is blamed for the problems with ISIL after allegedly favouring Shia communities.

Meanwhile the fighting between government troops and militia and the ISIL forces across northern and western Iraq. Today the Mosque of Prophet Yunus, the Biblical Jonah, was completely destroyed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and yesterday they destroyed the 1400 year old Imam Yahya Abul Qasim Mosque in Mosul. On 4th July they reportedly looted the graves of the prophet Yunus (Jonah) and prophet Shayth (Biblical Seth) according to Iraq News.

Iraq News also reports that the United Nations has confirmed that ISIL is subjecting all girls and women in the city of Mosul and surrounding areas to circumcision. Christians have been told to convert to Islam, pay taxes or be killed; most are fleeing the area.

You can find the latest situation report on the conflict between ISIL and the government at the Institute for the Study of War website.

More detailed briefing on the politics and risk of doing business in this country is available to clients and subscribers. If you would like to know more then please contact