Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is in a Baghdad hospital after apparently suffering a stroke. According to the AP, the 79-year-old Talabani collapsed on Monday night after "showing signs of fatigue" and has not regained consciousness. Though no official updates have been given on his status, Reuters quotes multiple government sources as saying that he is in "critical, but stable" condition.
Talabani's position in the Iraqi government is mostly ceremonial, but he has played an important role as a power broker in the building of post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. A member of the nation's Kurdish minority, he has helped to mediate disputes between the larger Sunni and Shia factions and has decades of experience dating back to his time as Kurdish guerrilla fighting against Hussein's rule. He has also helped keep his own Kurdish faction, which enjoyed years of relative autonomy in the northern part of the country, from breaking away or challenging the central government's authority.
Doctors are reportedly discussing the possibility of moving Talabani to another country, perhaps in Europe, where he can receive more advanced care. In 2008, he underwent heart surgery in the United States.
Death of Talabani would have big impact on the Iraqi political process. He has played a role more important than his limited formal power.— Michael Hanna (@mwhanna1) December 18, 2012