Jalal Talabani’s Approach to Leadership and Identity in Iraq—and Beyond

Mourners take the coffin of former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani during his funeral procession, Sulaimaniyah, Iraq, Oct. 6, 2017 (AP photo).
Mourners take the coffin of former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani during his funeral procession, Sulaimaniyah, Iraq, Oct. 6, 2017 (AP photo).
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Jalal Talabani, the Kurdish leader and former president of Iraq, died earlier this month, five years after being incapacitated by a stroke and days after a controversial referendum on Kurdish independence. His life and legacy offer insights into the complex mix of leadership and identity in Kurdistan and Iraq—or, for that matter, in Catalonia and other places where identity does not align easily with the borders of a nation state. Talabani was a towering figure in both Kurdish and Iraqi politics, and moved easily between these two magnetic poles. No one could doubt his devotion to Kurdish rights and the […]

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