Uni­fy­ing force:

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Adam Schreck and Qas­sim Ab­dul-Zahra

Iraqi Pres­i­dent Jalal Tal­a­bani is hos­pi­tal­ized in Bagh­dad af­ter suf­fer­ing a stroke, in­ject­ing new un­cer­tainty into the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal fu­ture.

BAGH­DAD— Iraqi Pres­i­dent Jalal Tal­a­bani suf­fered a stroke and was in in­ten­sive care at a Bagh­dad hospi­tal Tues­day, in­ject­ing new un­cer­tainty into the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal fu­ture a year af­ter the U.S. mil­i­tary left.

Although his of­fi­cial pow­ers are lim­ited, Tal­a­bani, 79, is re­spected by many Iraqis as a rare uni­fy­ing fig­ure seen as able to rise above the eth­nic and sec­tar­ian rifts that still di­vide the coun­try. Known for his jok­ing man­ner and wal­rus-like mous­tache, Tal­a­bani has been ac­tively in­volved in try­ing to me­di­ate an on­go­ing cri­sis be­tween Iraq’s cen­tral government and the coun­try’s eth­nic Kur­dish mi­nor­ity, from which he hails.

Iraqi state TV and sev­eral of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing the prime min­is­ter’s spokesman and Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Saleh alMut­laq, con­firmed to The As­so­ci­ated Press that Tal­a­bani had a stroke. The sever­ity re­mains un­clear.

Tal­a­bani’s spokesman, Nasser al-Ani, told re­porters that the pres­i­dent is in sta­ble con­di­tion, though he did not say what he was suf­fer­ing from. Med­i­cal of­fi­cials who ap­peared with him were just as cir­cum­spect.

“The pres­i­dent’s health is be­ing closely fol­lowed up by our med­i­cal team. The vi­tal or­gans are work­ing and we hope that there will be no de­te­ri­o­ra­tion,” said Dr. Ayad Ab­bas from the in­ten­sive care unit where Tal­a­bani is be­ing treated. “We hope that we will see im­prove­ment in the coming hours.”

The pres­i­den­tial of­fice said Tues­day that Tala- bani was hos­pi­tal­ized the pre­vi­ous evening af­ter signs of fa­tigue. A later state­ment cited tests show­ing he is suf­fer­ing from a con­di­tion caused by a hard­en­ing of ar­ter­ies.

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