Ali Salhi was born in Kirkuk, Iraq in 1944 in a Kurdish middle class family. He
received his schooling in Kirkuk and Baghdad with a degree in Education and
additional studies in Economics, International Trade, Real Estate, Marketing and
Development. After leaving Iraq, he became a US citizen and a successful
businessman, receiving a Congressional Businessman of the Year award in
Ali Al Sahli
Chairman Kirkuk oil and Gas Commitee
Capital Building Kirkuk, Iraq
Salhi has been involved in Iraqi politics since his early years. As a young
student, he became a strong opponent of Saddam Hussein and his regime. In the
early 1970’s, he took up arms in the Kurdish revolt against Saddam and became a
commando leader. In 1975, the revolt collapsed and Salhi was forced to seek
refuge and political asylum in the United States.
In 1976 he started his new life in America, settling in South Dakota. He
continued his involvement with both American and Iraqi politics. During the
1980’s and 1990’s he worked in the Iraqi opposition against Saddam Hussein,
secretly returning to Northern Iraq many times to organize political activities.
In 2000 he was elected Chairman of the “Iraqi Free Officers and Civilians
Movement” (IFOCM). This independent underground political organization worked
secretly inside Iraq to organize Iraqi senior military officers against Saddam’s
government. Many members of the organization were executed for their attempt to
The IFOCM was named by the White House in 2003 as one of Iraqi’s “democratic
opposition organizations” in a Presidential Determination issued under the Iraq
Liberation Act of 1998. Leaders of the Iraqi Free Officers and Civilians
Movement were dispatched to the war zone before the arrival of U.S. troops and
participated in the fighting once the war started.
Salhi and his forces participated in the liberation of Kirkuk in the early days
of the war. In Kirkuk, he set up his headquarters in the Capital Building and
became a personal consultant to the Commander of the 173rd Airborne, Colonel
William Mayville. He has maintained close contact with the US Consulate in
Kirkuk, as well as with US military commanders.
In early May 2003, Salhi was elected by a landslide vote to the 32- member
Kirkuk Governing Council. He was then nominated for the position of Governor of
Kirkuk, but declined the post for political and family reasons. Ali Salhi held
positions on two government committees as the Chairman of the Committee on
Economic Development and the Committee on Oil Industry Development. The issues
he handled included development and control of Iraq’s oil industry, economic
development of the North and the future status of Kirkuk, the structure of the
federal state, the use of US assistance, and strategies for political and
economic development of Iraq.
Salhi ran for the Kirkuk Governing Council as an independent and has worked
closely with all groups in Iraq, including the Arabs, Turkmen, Shia and Sunnis..
He also has a strong relation-ship with the Iraqi central government, especially
with Iraqi President Talabani, a fellow Kurd.
Ali Salhi is married and has six children.