His excellency president Jalal Talabani, the sixth president of Iraq, suffered from a stroke last week. There were some outlets claiming that Talabani had passed away, with others suggesting possible candidates who will succeed him as the president of Iraq rather than verifying the truth and respecting his privacy and wishing him a speedy recovery. It was unfortunate that these circumstances triggered such questions, especially when it is clear that Talabani can never be replaced nor succeeded as there is only one 'Mam Jalal'. He is currently receiving treatment in Germany and is responding to his treatment regime and the office of the president has confirmed that he is stable and making a recovery. Being the president of a country, especially one that is war-torn and with decades of dictatorship is not an easy task, and comes with a lot of sacrifice and stress.
President Jalal is also known as 'Mam Jalal', translated to 'Uncle Jalal' as he serves as an uncle to all Kurds. Throughout the Kurdish community he is respected despite political views as he is the first Kurdish leader to lead an Arab country, and show that Kurds are equally capable. It can be suggested that due to his political awareness and warmth when meditating between political fractions he has secured unity at times of intense tension. It is universally recognised internationally that he is a rare jewel that seals the Middle East and Iraq together. Indeed, no matter what the challenges were and whether his decisions have been right or wrong in matters, he served and serves as an ambassador for all Kurds. He set an example to the Kurds that nothing is impossible if they strive hard. He showed that despite difficulties that are faced as Kurds, such as being treated as second-class citizens in some areas, they can still be elevated in political and educational status through working hard and not giving up.
It is wrong to assume that 'Mam Jalal' is only liked by his political party members the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK); he is liked throughout the world due to his charisma and due to being fair when making decisions. He is highly respected within the Arab countries and he set a high standard for fellow Arab leaders, by treating all Iraqi citizens as equals, and not being biased in policies and decisions to help the Kurds, but to be fair and uphold the constitution to help all Iraqis. He set a new chapter in human rights in Iraq, when he refused to sign the execution order for Tariq Aziz, former deputy prime minister under Saddam Hussein.
Talabani will leave behind a legacy that only a few can achieve in their lifespan. Indeed, he united both Kurds and Arabs, and devoted his life to both the Iraqi and Kurdish Cause. A good leader leads by example, and I am certain that through Mam Jalal's achievements and struggle, he has opened a box of hope for the future of both Iraq and the Kurdistan region.
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