Dr. Barham Salih was born in 1960 in the city of Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan. He was arrested in 1979 by the Baathist regime twice on charges of involvement in the Kurdish national movement by taking some photos of protestors in Sulaimaniya city and spent 43 days in detention in a Special Investigation Commission prison in Kirkuk where he was tortured. Once release he finished high school he left Iraq for the United Kingdom because of continuous persecution.
Deputy Secretary General of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
Dr. Barham Salih joined the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in late 1976 where he became a member of the PUK department of Europe, and was in charge of PUK foreign relations in London. In addition to the political struggle, he finished his university studies and received a Bachelors degree in Civil Engineering and Construction from the Cardiff University in 1983. He continued to study and obtained a Doctorate degree in Statistics and Computer Applications in Engineering from the University of Liverpool in 1987.
He was elected a member of the PUK leadership at the first party conference when Iraqi Kurdistan was liberated from the Ba'ath Party following the first Gulf War. He was assigned the task of heading the PUK Office in the United States.
After the fall of the Baathist regime, he became Deputy Prime Minister in the Interim Iraqi Government (in mid-2004), Minister of Planning in the Transitional Government (in 2005), and Deputy Prime Minister in the elected Iraqi Government (Nouri al-Maliki’s Cabinet) in charge of the economic portfolio and Head of the Economic Committee. Representing the Iraqi Government, he launched the International Compact with Iraq – an initiative of mutual commitment between Iraq and the international community to help Iraq in meeting its obligations of “building a prosperous, democratic and federal country, in peace with itself and with the region and the world”.
Salih appeared on The Colbert Report on June 10, 2009, broadcast from Baghdad, and was interviewed by the host. He praised the U.S. military for freeing Iraq, and acknowledged that many Kurds desire independence.
Prime Minister: Kurdistan Regional Government
Barham Salih spearheaded the Kurdistani List in the Iraqi Kurdistan legislative election, 2009. The list won 59 of 111 seats. He succeeded Nechervan Idris Barzani as the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government. His term was marked by a turbulence time with the rise of an opposition(Movement for Change) to challenge the government while his own party was scrambling to stay together after losing the stronghold city of Sulaymaniyah. He survived the first motion of no confidence in Iraqi Kurdistan following the 2011 Kurdish protests in Iraq. He signed the first major oil contract with Exxon Mobil after drafting and amending a new oil law. He relinquished the post of Prime Minister to Nechervan Idris Barzani on the 17 January 2012 as part of a political agreement between the ruling KDP-PUK coalition
Personal lifeHe is married to Dr. Sarbagh Salih, the head and founding member of the Kurdish Botanical Foundation and a women’s rights activist.