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Dr. Iyad Allawi (Arabic: اياد علاوي Iyād `Allāwī) (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. As of January 2007, he appears to have left Iraq for the relative security of Amman and London, according to the New York Times’ Damien Cave.
He continues to lead his Iraqi National Accord‘s party in the new Assembly, though its support was weak during legislative elections, and only polled 14 per cent of the vote.
A former Ba’athist, Allawi set up the Iraqi National Accord is today 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 Ayad Allawi the Iraqi pronunciation for Iyad.
Allawi was born in 1945 to a prominent Shia merchant family; his grandfather helped to negotiate Iraq’s independence from Britain, and his father was an Iraqi Member of Parliament. He became involved in Ba’athism at a young age and organized against the government of Abdul Karim Qassim. In the 1960s, he studied at medical school in Baghdad and became friendly with fellow Ba’athist Saddam Hussein. He graduated high school from Baghdad College an American Catholic Jesuit high school, same as Ahmed Chalabi and Adil Abdul Mahdi.
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.
In 1971, he moved to London in order to continue his medical education. He resigned from the Baath party in 1975, “having decided that Saddam was exerting too much control over it”. Allawi himself states that he remained active in the international Ba’athist movement but had no ties to the Iraqi Ba’atist party.
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 and became mentally
disturbed. It is presumed that the attack was an assassination attempt ordered by Saddam Hussein.  His wife then left him after this in fear of her life would once again be under threat.
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 for British intelligence.
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 the latter’s 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 was recruited by 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. Allawi’s INA organised terrorist 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. It is estimated to have caused up to 100 civilian deaths.
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 demolished. 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.
Shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the Coalition Provisional Authority (the “CPA”) was established by the occupying forces in order to administer the country until sovereignty could be restored to the country. The CPA decided to establish a grouping of senior Iraqi politicians to carry out some administrative responsibilities, with a view to giving the occupation a more “Iraqi face”. This grouping was referred to as the Governing Council, and was made up of 25 Iraqis that were appointed by the CPA. Allawi was one of those that were selected to serve on the Governing Council, and occupied the position Minister of Defence (although his real responsibilities in that regard were obviously limited considering Iraq remained under occupation). He held the rotating presidency of the interim governing council during October of 2003. In April 2004, Allawi reportedly resigned as head of the IGC security committee over concerns for US bombing of Fallujah
, according to a letter published in INA’s newspaper.
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.
On May 28, 2004, he was selected to be the Interim Prime Minister of Iraq to govern the country beginning with the United States’ handover of sovereignty (June 30, 2004) until national elections, scheduled for early 2005. Although many believe the decision was reached largely on the advice of United Nations special envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, the New York Times reported that Brahimi only endorsed him reluctantly after pressure from U.S. officials. (In response to a question about the role of the U.S. in Allawi’s appointment, Brahimi replied: “I sometimes say, I’m sure he doesn’t mind me saying that, Bremer is the dictator of Iraq. He has the money. He has the signature. Nothing happens without his agreement in this country.” Two weeks later, Brahimi announced his resignation, due to “great difficulties and frustration”. )
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, pro-American views. Later, as military situation in Iraq worsened and the death toll increased, coveraged 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 independent 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.
During the summer of 2004, Allawi made several controversial decisions. Most notably, his decision to support the invasions of both Najaf and Falluja made him extremely unpopular amongst Iraq’s Shia and Sunni populations. 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, a claim that brought him much ridicule from Iraqis.
The INA polled a distant third, with 14% of the vote, suggesting a lack of domestic support for Allawi’s rule. This was probably due to, among other factors, his past membership in the baath party, numerous allegations of corruption and of financial fraud when he was prime minister (arrest warrants have been issued for ministers in his administration), and a real perception among Iraqis, both Shia and Sunni, that he has a somewhat thuggish character, reminiscent of Saddam Hussain. While he tried to give his bloc influence in the new assembly, at times courting mavericks and independents for support, the INA had almost no impact on subsequent political developments in the country.
In preparation for the next parliamentary elections that took place in Iraq in December 2005, Allawi formed an alliance between many groups, including secular Sunni and Shia groups and the Iraqi communist party under one electoral list, which was referred to as the Iraqi national list. However, despite a slick advertising campaign, and despite high expectations, this list performed extremely poorly in the polls. It only managed to secure 25 seats in the national assembly, a net loss of 15 seats since the January 2005 elections.
Allawi’s first wife was named Athour. He divorced her in 1981 in the wake of the assassination attempt against him in 1978. He later remarried. His wife lives in London with their two daughters, born around 1988 and 1989, and son, born around 1996.
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 was attacked several times in England.