By John Cookson. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
The exact origin of the proverb “cometh the hour, cometh the man” are unknown, but there can be no doubt the man tasked with saving Iraq from disintegration at this dangerous hour is 63-year-old Nouri Al-Maliki.
In these pivotal days in Iraq’s history, what do we know about him and can he crush the jihadists?
He rarely gives interviews but we know Al-Maliki is a man of determination who has successfully walked a treacherous political tight rope in a country still swirling with violence and intrigue after 40 years of conflict.
As leader of the Shi’ite Dawa Party he has been Prime Minister for two terms and – before ISIS’s astonishing advance and the fall of Mosul – was bidding to be nominated for another 4 years.
But his critics – and there are many – accuse him of presiding over one of the most corrupt regimes in the world and his dictatorial style, personal control of security and intelligence services, and especially marginalisation of the Sunnis are seen by many as the primary causes of the present crisis.
In the past several senior US politicians have asked for him to be removed from office including Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin.
His opponents also claim he is a puppet of Iran, although Western diplomats in Baghdad insist he is his own man and regularly stands up to Teheran.
A strong orator, he is tough on enemies and readily signed Saddam’s death warrant in 2006 saying there would be no appeal. He also crushed a rebellion by Muqtada al Sadr’s militia in Basrah.
He is familiar with guerilla warfare having spent 25 years in exile during the Saddam era mostly in Syria directing operations against the Iraqi dictator.