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President's Absence Complicates Iraqi Politics

As Iraqi President Jalal Talabani continues to undergo treatment in Berlin, Iraqi leaders are indecisive on how to proceed in his absence, writes Ali Abel Sadah.
Kurdish President Massoud Barzani (R) and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani talk during an event to mark the official start of oil exports from the autonomous region of Kurdistan, in the northern Kurdish city of Arbil June 1, 2009. Iraq's Kurdistan region said on Monday it hoped to be producing 1 million barrels per day of oil within the next 2-3 years, despite discord with the Arab-led government in Baghdad over Iraq's oil wealth.  REUTERS/Safin Hamed/Pool (IRAQ CONFLICT ENERGY BUSINESS POLITICS) - RTR245LU
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Five months have passed and Iraq is still without a head of state. The president [Jalal Talabani], who is ill and has been undergoing treatment in the German capital of Berlin, is turning out to be quite the mystery in Iraqi politics at present.

The sole source entitled to speak about his health condition is Najmeddine Karim, the Kurdish governor of the city of Kirkuk and head of the medical team supervising the health of Talabani, who is also a leading Kurdish politician. Yet, Karim does not utter a word that might let the public know what is going on in the treatment room in Berlin. He is simply using a few tactful terms such as “the president is getting better" and "the president has started to become aware of what’s going on around him, and is talking to some of his friends.”

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