Barham Salih | The American University of Iraq Sulaimani

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Barham Salih

Barham A. Salih is the founder of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. He served as the eighth President of the Republic of Iraq from 2018 to 2022. Currently, he is a Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Middle East Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School since March 2024.
He is a veteran Iraqi Kurdish politician with years of public service and leadership experience in both the Kurdistan Region and federal Iraq.
Dr. Salih served as Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region from 2009-2012. He was elected to a leadership role at the first conference of the Political Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party after the liberation of Kurdistan from dictatorship in 1992, and was also chosen to head the PUK office in the United States. Following the first parliamentary elections in the same year, he became the representative of the newly formed Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to the US. During his time in the US, he was active in improving Kurdistan’s relations with the West.
He was appointed Prime Minister of the KRG in Sulaimani from 2001-2004. After the fall of the Ba'athist regime, he was appointed Deputy Prime Minister of the Interim Iraqi Government in mid-2004, the Minister of Planning in the transitional government in 2005, and Deputy Prime Minister again from 2005-2009. In addition to his role as Deputy Prime Minister, he was also in charge of the economic portfolio and head of the Economic Committee.
On October 2, 2018, Dr. Salih was elected President of the Republic of Iraq.
Dr. Salih earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and construction at the University of Cardiff, and a doctoral degree in statistics and computer applications in engineering from the University of Liverpool in 1987. He is married to Dr. Sarbagh Salih, a botanist and women’s rights activist. He is fluent in Kurdish, Arabic and English.