Nouri al-Maliki: Iraq's New Strongman

Ali Yussef / AFP / GETTY

Think of him as a chameleon. Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's Prime Minister, owes his survival to an ability to adapt his political persona to the prevailing circumstances. During his 24-year exile from Saddam Hussein's Iraq, he dropped his given name and went by "Jawad," to avoid detection by the dictator's spies. Returning to Baghdad in 2003, Maliki seemed no different from the legion of Shi'ite partisans who took up posts in the U.S.-installed interim government. He brought vigor and venom to his job on the committee responsible for purging the government of Saddam's mainly Sunni elite. He also...

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