Nouri al-Maliki – Prime Minister of Iraq
So littered is the Earth with supposed cradles of civilisation that viewed from outer space, it resembles a branch of Mothercare. One claimant to the title is Iraq, the purported birthplace of no lesser cultural milestones than writing, law and even the wheel. It was presumably, then, the first place to have had Police cars that said “Police” on them, or the Mesopotamian equivalent thereof.
One of the great markers of a civilised society is being able to depict their figureheads in states of undress without fear of execution. So it is that on behalf of Iraq we give you Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki. In his underpants. Leaders of countries that have had democracy thrust upon them are rarely swept to power on a wave of public enthusiasm. Rather, they stagger out of the rubble to fill the power vacuum created by foreign missiles, and are then accused of being puppets to those same powers. It’s a charge al-Maliki has been at pains to refute. In fact, many US politicians have been outspoken in their criticism of him. Fortunately for al-Maliki, the objections have not been backed up by tanks on this occasion.
The former rebel came out of exile to run for the premiership, and since coming to power has held together a wobbly alliance of Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions. He now joins World Leaders in Their Underpants, where his experience holding together wobbly alliances will be much sought after.