Qurtuba Adnan al-Thahir bids to be Iraq’s president

Qurtuba Adnan al-Thahir, an Iraqi-German woman, is vying to become the embattled country’s next president

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An Iraqi-German woman is vying to become the embattled country’s next president after the parliament speaker opened last week the doors for potential candidates to bid for the top post that has been reserved for Kurds ever since the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein.

Qurtuba Adnan al-Thahir, who is currently based in Germany, said in an interview with Elaph news website Monday that the biggest hurdles for the political process in Iraq were the “parties with power and worshipers of political statues in parliament.”

“We have noticed political extremism and the holding onto stances without wisdom or realizing the regional and international situation,” Thahir, who has a master’s degree in political science and is running as an independent, said.

Al-Thahir, the daughter of a Germany-based Iraqi chemist, also condemned the military escalation in Iraq, where “innocent people are being killed and Iraq’s infrastructure is being destroyed.”

Due to political wrangling, Iraq did not form a government after its April parliamentary elections and the lightening offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in June only exacerbated the situation. Iraq is currently suffering from a protracted government formation.

As citizens in the ISIS-held northern and western regions suffer from the radical group's extremist policies, civilians are also stuck in conflict areas from clashes between the militants and Iraqi troops.

U.N. envoy to Iraq Nickolay Mladenov warned on Wednesday that the situation in the country remained grim, adding that the "solution to the crisis cannot be found in the toolbox of military operations,” AFP reported.

Urging ‘moderate behavior’

During the interview, al-Thahir urged politicians to exercise a “moderate behavior” and criticized the lack of a “real role for the president.”

“There needs to be a president with an affirmative role … and to remind politicians of the needed moderate behavior which can be done through brave honest dialogue.”

Iraq has been without a president since Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke two years ago. Talabani recently returned to Iraq after months of treatment in Germany.

Iraq’s senior political posts are reserved to the country’s different sects – a Sunni holds the post of speaker; a Kurd the post of president; a Shiite the post of prime minister.

Al-Thahir rejected that the post of president be exclusively held by the Kurds, noting that there was no mention of the custom in Iraq’s constitution, and called on women to play a bigger role in political life.

“There should be no monopoly for any political figure,” she said.

Iraq’s parliament, which had been due to elect the country’s president on Wednesday, postponed the vote by a day, delaying the formation of a power-sharing government urgently needed to confront the Sunni insurgency, Reuters reported.

The Sunni speaker, Salim al-Jubouri, told parliament that the Kurds had asked for a one-day delay on the vote so that they could agree on a candidate.

Thahir also said she regarded women as Iraq’s best hope.

“History has proved that women can handle political issues with patience and bravery … Iraq needs a mother who can listen to her children venting about the hurdles of life and hubris of politicians,” she told Elaph.

“Iraq needs women who play an international, regional role to mitigate that situation and create peace,” she said, adding that “women will inevitably take their role in governing sooner or later because they are the majority now. It is a new period for Iraqi women.”

Willing to give up German passport

Meanwhile, al-Thahir told the Iraqi-based Kurdish News Network Channel (KNNC) on Monday that female Iraqi deputies would not be able to vote for her because they had to follow the decision of their respective political blocs.

She also told KNNC that she was willing to give up her German nationality.

Al-Thahir said she considers running for the presidency her “national duty” as people in the embattled country are continuing to suffer.

Parliament has until the end of the month to choose a president who will then have 15 days to nominate a prime minister.

In the 2010 parliamentary elections, al-Thahir attempted to run as parliamentarian for the secular Ahrar party with no success. She speaks Arabic, German, English and French.

In her interviews, Thahir does not mention her age or marital status. She has worked as an activist for children and women’s rights. Professionally, she has worked eight years in Information Technology.

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