Ayad Allawi (إياد علاوي ) (born 1945) is an Iraqi politician, and was the interim Prime Minister of Iraq prior to Iraq's 2005 legislative elections. A prominent Iraqi political activist who lived in exile for almost 30 years, the politically secular Shia Muslim became a member of the Iraq Interim Governing Council, which was established by U.S.-led coalition authorities following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He became Iraq's first head of government since Saddam Hussein when the council dissolved on June 1, 2004 and named him Prime Minister of the Iraqi Interim Government. His term as Prime Minister ended on April 7, 2005, after the selection of Islamic Dawa Party leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari by the newly-elected transitional Iraqi National Assembly.
A former Ba'athist, Allawi helped found the Iraqi National Accord, which today is an active political party. In the lead up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq the INA provided intelligence about alleged weapons of mass destruction to MI6. Allawi has lived about half of his life in the UK and retains British citizenship. His wife and children still live in Britain for their security. He survived an assassination attempt on April 20, 2005.
Allawi's name is sometimes rendered as Eyad Allawi, the Iraqi pronunciation for Ayad.
1960s: Studies at medical school in Baghdad, where he first meets Saddam Hussein. Joins Baath party.
1963: According to the memoirs of a former Iraqi ambassador, Talib Shabib, Allawi was an assassin.
1971: Leaves Baghdad for London to continue his medical education. Trains to be a neurologist and obtains a master of science in medicine and a doctorate in medicine from London University.
1975: Falls out of favour with the Baath party.
1978: Plots with Iraqi generals to overthrow Saddam in a coup and Saddam comes to know of this. He is attacked while in his bed in Kingston-upon-Thames. Intruder hits him over the head with an axe, a second blow nearly severs his right leg, and a third plunges into his chest. The would-be assassins flee. Allawi spends a year in hospital recovering from his injuries.
1980s: Travels extensively in the Middle East, holding clandestine meetings with other exiled Iraqis, and cultivating links with rebel army officers still in Iraq.
1991: Publicly announces the existence of the Iraqi National Accord which was previously a clandestine operation; and is voted its Secretary General. The organisation recruits disillusioned Baathist military officers who have defected.
1996: An INA coup attempt ends disastrously when Saddam's intelligence services penetrate the group's dissident operations inside Iraq. In June, 30 military officers linked to the INA are executed and another 100 arrested. Saddam takes revenge by seizing land that has been owned for centuries by Allawi's rich merchant family.
2002: Allawi channels the report from an Iraqi officer claiming that Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes to British Intelligence.
2003: After the fall of Saddam, Allawi returns to Iraq and is appointed to the Iraqi Governing Council. Holds the rotating presidency of the interim governing council during October 2003.
May 28, 2004: Allawi is voted for unanimously by the Governing Council to become the interim Prime Minister of Iraq.
June 28: (Two days early) the US-led coalition hands over power to Allawi and the interim government.
Allawi is related to Ahmed Chalabi, another prominent former exile and now disgraced though somewhat rehabilitated U.S. ally, through his sister. Former minister of trade Ali Allawi is Chalabi's sister's son as well as Iyad Allawi's cousin. The relationship between Chalabi and Allawi has been described as alternating between rivals and allies. In addition, Nouri Badran, interim Minister of Interior, is married to Iyad Allawi's sister. He is half Lebanese, as he is son of Najat Osseiran, and cousin of Leila Adel Osseiran.
At first Saddam, then Iraq's deputy president, pressured Allawi, who was in contact with senior military and party officers that were increasingly critical of Saddam, to rejoin the Ba'ath Party. In 1978, friends told Allawi that his name was on a liquidation list. In February 1978 Allawi was awoken in bed one night by an intruder in his Surrey home, who proceeded to attack him with an axe. The intruder left, convinced that Allawi was dead as he lay in a pool of blood. He survived the attempted murder, and spent the next year in hospital recovering from his injuries. His first wife, Athour, was also wounded in the attack. It is presumed that the attack was an assassination attempt ordered by Saddam Hussein. He separated with his wife after mutual agreement.
While still recovering in hospital from the attack, Allawi started organising an opposition network to work against the government of Saddam Hussein. Through the 1980s he built this network, recruiting Iraqis while traveling as a businessman and for the UNDP. It is widely believed that he spent much of this period working with the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS).
In December 1990, Allawi announced the formation of the Iraqi National Accord (INA). Allawi's main partner in the INA was Salah Omar Al-Ali, a former member of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council and ambassador to the United Nations. Al-Ali eventually broke off his relations with Allawi when he learned of his relationship with foreign intelligence agencies. The main sponsors of INA were the British, but they received secret backing from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States. The group consisted mainly of former military personnel who had defected from Saddam Hussein's Iraq to instigate a military coup. Allawi established links and worked with the CIA in 1992 as a counterpoint to the more well-known CIA asset Ahmed Chalabi, and because of the INA's links in the Ba'athist establishment. It is alleged Allawi's INA organised attacks in Iraq. This campaign never posed a threat to Saddam Hussein's rule, but was designed to test INA's capability to effect regime change. Though Saddam's government claimed the attacks have caused up to 100 civilian deaths though there are no true records of theses statistics to date.
A military coup was planned for 1996, in which Iraqi generals were to lead their units against Baghdad and remove Saddam Hussein. The CIA supported the plot, code-named DBACHILLES, and added Iraqi officers that were not part of INA. The plan ended in disaster as it had been infiltrated by agents loyal to Saddam. US support was also questionable - requests by the CIA station chief in Amman for American air support were refused by the Clinton administration. Many participants were executed. Lands and factories belonging to the Allawi family were confiscated, even their graveyard in Najaf was seized, although later was returned. According to Allawi, his family lost $250 million worth of assets. US support for INA continued, receiving $6 million covert aid in 1996 and $5 million in 1995 (according to books by David Wurmser as well as Andrew and Patrick Cockburn).
Allawi channelled the report from an Iraqi officer claiming that Iraq could deploy its supposed weapons of mass destruction within "45 minutes" to British Intelligence. This claim featured prominently in the September Dossier which the British government released in 2002 to gain public support for the Iraq invasion. In the aftermath of the war, the "45 minute claim" was also at the heart of the confrontation between the British government and the BBC, and the death of David Kelly later examined by Lord Hutton. Giving evidence to the Hutton Inquiry, the head of MI6 Richard Dearlove suggested that the claim related to battlefield weapons rather than weapons of mass destruction.
In December 2003, he flew to CIA headquarters in Langley together with fellow INA official Nouri Badran to discuss detailed plans for setting up a domestic secret service. The agency was to be headed by Badran, a former Ba'athist who served Saddam as an ambassador until 1990, and, controversially, recruit many agents of Saddam's Mukhabarat. When the Iraqi National Intelligence Service was set up in March 2004, its designated director was Mohammed Abdullah Mohammed al-Shehwani, another former Ba'athist exile with ties to INA.
At the time of his nomination, Allawi was often described in the US mainstream media as a moderate Shia, a member of Iraq's majority faith, chosen for his secular, national views. Later, as military situation in Iraq worsened and the death toll increased, coverage became sometimes less flattering and included descriptions suggesting Allawi was Washington's puppet (e.g. Newsweek:"Iraq's New S. O. B." , NYT: "Dance of the Marionettes). The BBC attributes his nomination to being "equally mistrusted by everyone" in Iraq. A secret document written in 2002 by the British Overseas and Defence Secretariat reportedly stated that within Iraq, Allawi was seen as "a western stooge" who "lacked domestic credibility".
On June 28 2004 (two days early), the U.S.-led coalition handed over power to Allawi and the Iraqi Interim Government, who were sworn in later that same day. After his interim government assumed legal custody of Saddam Hussein and re-introduced capital punishment, Allawi gave assurances that he would not interfere with the trial and would accept any court decisions. In an interview with Dubai-based TV station al-Arabiya he said: "As for the execution, that is for the court to decide — so long as a decision is reached impartially and fairly.
On July 17, two Australian newspapers, the Sydney Morning Herald , and The Age , published an article alleging that one week before the handover of sovereignty, Allawi himself summarily executed six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station. The allegations are backed up by two unknown un-named sources and the execution is said to have taken place in presence of about a dozen Iraqi police, four American security men and Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib. Mr Allawi reportedly said that the execution was to "send a clear message to the police on how to deal with insurgents". Both Allawi's office and Naqib have denied the report. US ambassador John Negroponte did not clearly deny the allegations. Additionally, the allegations made by Sydney Morning Herald journalist Paul McGeough went largely unreported by mainstream American media. Iraq's Human Rights Minister Bakhtiar Amin pledged to investigate the allegations against his PM. The stories were reported to have increased Allawi's reputation in Iraq as they convinced many that he had the fortitude to rule. Ahmed Chalabi has been routinely involved in planting stories in the media against Allawi.
On July 18, Iraqi militants offered a $285,000 reward for anyone who could kill Iyad Allawi.
During the summer of 2004, Allawi made several controversial decisions. Most notably, his decision to support the military incursions of both Najaf and Falluja made him extremely unpopular amongst some Iraqis. He also announced the creation of General Security Directorate, a domestic spy agency, whose main role is to counteract terrorist groups and the Iraqi insurgency. He recruited some former agents of Saddam Hussein's secret police to form the General Security Directorate. He gave himself the powers to declare martial law. He closed the Iraqi office of al Jazeera and nominated Ibrahim Janabi, a former Ba'athist and Mukhabarat officer, to head the newly created media regulator. He also made moves to eliminate Muqtada al-Sadr from the scene.
Allawi led the Iraqi National Accord during the January 2005 Iraqi election. His campaign was mainly characterised by his attempt to improve his image, which had been seriously damaged as a result of his many unpopular decisions. His campaign reached a low point when he visited the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf on December 4, 2004, where a group of angry Shia worshipers hurled their shoes at him. Later on, in a face saving statement, Allawi claimed that it was an assassination attempt.
The INA polled a distant third, with 14% of the vote, which on a party versus coalition makes him head one of the largest represented parties. This was probably due to, among other factors, the strong character assassination campaign against him (again, thought to be backed by Iran).
The Iraqi National List was represented in the coalition governmment led by Nouri al-Maliki, but Allawi himself did not take a Cabinet post. The party eventually boycotted the government in 2007.
When he first came to England years ago he was married to an Iraqi Catholic whose father was one of the top pilots in Iraq. He faced several assassination attempts in England and throughout the Middle-East by agents of Saddam's regime.