Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd who has mediated among Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish parties, is in “critical but stable condition” after suffering a stroke yesterday, government officials and lawmakers said.
Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan offered to send ambulance plane to Iraq to bring Talabani for treatment in Turkey.
However, reports on Talabani’s medical condition varied, with three government sources saying he was in critical condition, although the president’s office said the 79-year-old was stable under intensive medical supervision after receiving treatment for blocked arteries.
“President Talabani has suffered a light stroke. His condition is stable now and doctors are closely monitoring him and if they decide he should be transferred outside, then he’ll go,” said a Talabani associate.
Talabani had been suffering from ill health much of this year and had received medical treatment overseas several times in the last two years.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited the hospital earlier yesterday, according to Reuters.
Talabani recently helped ease a military stand-off between al-Maliki’s central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) head, Masoud Barzani, in their long-running dispute over oil-field rights and internal boundaries.
Talabani survived wars, exile and infighting in northern Iraq to become the country’s first Kurdish president a few years after the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
Talabani’s office earlier said the Iraqi president had been taken to the hospital after showing signs of fatigue Dec. 17 evening, and that he was being treated for an unspecified health problem. It later said tests have shown he is suffering from a hardening of his arteries, though it described his condition as stable, the Associated Press reported. An Iraqi Cabinet official said Talabani fainted on Dec. 17 and remains unconscious. The official agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release details about the president’s health.
Talabani is overweight but little else is known publicly about his health. Over the summer, he underwent knee-replacement surgery in Germany.