Maliki, Nuri Kamal al-
, 1950-, Iraqi political leader. A Shiite who worked as an education official in Hilla, he was a member and, later, deputy leader of the Dawa party, a Shiite religious party that engaged in armed resistance to Saddam Hussein
. Sentenced to death, Maliki fled Iraq (1980) and spent more than two decades in exile. Returning secretly to Iraqi in 2002, he was appointed to the National Council established after the United States invaded and overthrew Hussein, and was involved (2003-4) in the de-Ba'athification of the Iraqi government and civil service. Elected to the transitional National Assembly in 2005, he was involved in writing the new constitution. After the 2005 parliamentary elections, when interim Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari
proved unacceptable to Sunnis and Kurds, Maliki, a close adviser to Jaafari and the spokesman for a coalition of religious Shiite parties, emerged (2006) as a U.S.-supported compromise candidate for prime minister. Regarded as tough-minded, Maliki vowed to integrate the militias into the army, but his ability to tackle Iraq's sectarian violence was hampered by his fractious "unity" government's dependence on the support of Moktada al-Sadr
and of Sunni leaders with ties to insurgents. The withdrawal of Sadr's party from the government, the disillusionment of many Iraqi Sunnis with the insurgency, and the establishment (Dec., 2008) of a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Iraqi subsequently benefited Maliki.
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