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Adnan Pachachi
عدنان الباجه جي
Adnan Pachachi - Flickr - Al Jazeera English (cropped).jpg
Pachachi in March 2010
Foreign Minister of Iraq
In office
11 December 1965 – 10 July 1967
Preceded by Abd al-Rahman al-Bazzaz
Succeeded by Ismail Khairallah (acting)
Personal details
Born (1923-05-14)14 May 1923
Baghdad, Iraq
Died 17 November 2019(2019-11-17) (aged 96)
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Political party Assembly of Independent Democrats
Alma mater American University of Beirut

Adnan al-Pachachi or Adnan Muzahim Ameen al-Pachachi (Arabic: عدنان الباجه جي) (14 May 1923 – 17 November 2019) was a veteran Iraqi and Emirati politician and diplomat. Pachachi was Iraq's Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 1959 to 1965 and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq from 1965 to 1967, during the Six-Day War with Israel; he again served as Permanent Representative to the UN from 1967 to 1969. After 1971, he left Iraq in exile and became an Emirati Minister of State and political advisor to United Arab Emirates president Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Following the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Pachachi was an important figure in Iraqi politics, often described as Iraq's elder statesman. He rejected the role of president in the Iraqi Interim Government.

Nikita Khrushchev meeting Adnan Pachachi
Adnan Pachachi and Krim Belkacem meeting with Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union, in 1960

Childhood and education

Pachachi was born in Baghdad in 14 May 1923. As the son of Muzahim al-Pachachi, nephew of Hamdi al-Pachachi and the cousin of Nadim al-Pachachi, he was the scion of a Sunni Arab nationalist family with a long tradition in Iraqi politics and a graduate from Victoria College, Alexandria in Egypt. He supported the 1941 Iraqi coup d'état led by Rashid Ali Al-Gaylani as a member of the Kata'ib al-Shabab (Youth Brigade).

Pachachi completed his undergraduate studies in 1943 at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, majoring in political science. While attending the university, he was inspired by the early emergence of the Arab Nationalist Movement on the campus. After his return to Iraq, his application for a job in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was refused by the Iraqi Criminal Investigation Department due to his participation in the Kata'ib al-Shabab and support for the 1941 coup.

Diplomatic and political career in Iraq

Eventually, in 1950, he was appointed assistant director of the Political Department in the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and continued to work in the Foreign Service over the next eight years. In 1958, the union of Egypt and Syria was led by Gamal Abdel Nasser and the United Arab Republic was founded. Pachachi had been a vocal supporter of Nasser, particularly during the Suez War in 1956 although official Iraqi government policy at the time was aligned with the British against him. On his attraction to the Egyptian leader he wrote in his memoir "My feelings about Egypt and Jamal Abdul Nasser had deep-rooted origins. In the first place I shared my father's belief that Egypt was the most important Arab country and that Iraq should at all times should have the best relations with her. My father, in and out of power, consistently called for the closest ties with Egypt. It cost him his political career in 1950. He remained very close to Abdul Nasser and supported him during the fateful days of the Suez War. Being a fervent Arab nationalist, I was naturally attracted by Nasser's call for Arab unity, and during the Suez crisis I supported him without reservation. I admired Abdul Nasser because he personified more than anyone, the idea or Arab unity and seemed the only leader capable of achieving it." It was for this reason he was not trusted by Prime Minister Nuri as-Said and deemed to be a Nasserist. On 13 July 1958 he was dismissed and removed from the Iraqi Foreign Service due to his pro-Nasserite positions.

The very next day was the 14 July Revolution led by Abdul Karim Qassim. The Hashemite monarchy and Nuri as-Said were overthrown. Pachachi was promptly appointed Iraq's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in 1959 by Qassim's revolutionary regime. During this time Iraq formed a close relationship with the Soviet Union led by Nikita Khrushchev. Under Qassim, Iraq was a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961 and Pachachi met with founding leaders Josep Broz Tito, Kwame Nkrumah, Jawaharlal Nehru, Fidel Castro, and Sukarno as a representative of his country. During his time at the United Nations he also met with well-known figures such as Patrice Lumumba and Malcolm X. The Qassim regime recognised the People's Republic of China and Pachachi argued very strongly for their inclusion at the United Nations. Despite the brutal 1963 coup which removed Qassim from power in Iraq, Pachachi remained the representative at the United Nations.

Abdulnasser meets pachachi
Pachachi (right) with Gamal Abdel Nasser (1966)

Pachachi wrote extensively about his time at the UN in his memoir, Iraq's Voice at the United Nations: 1959-1969. He expressed his dismay at the influence of the Zionist lobby over western media and speculated on the reasons for the support displayed for Israel. "The press of many Western countries abound with news commentaries and photographs extolling Israel's achievements and exploits, and scarcely hiding the perverse and malicious pleasure felt at the new tragedy that has befallen the people of Palestine. What can the meaning of all this be? Perhaps, in due course, some introspective and compassionate minds in the West might invest some time in soul-searching to analyse this curious phenomenon of Western, almost tribal, jubilation at Arab agony. Can it be that the temporary triumph of Zionist arms offers emotional compensation to some sections of the Western public for the post-Second World War retreat of Western colonialism before the advancing tide of Afro-Asian nationalism? Indeed, can we forget that Zionism is in fact chronologically the last wave of European demographic displacement at the expense of an Afro-Asian people?"

Following the announcement of his departure from the United Nations in December 1965, Pachachi was presented with a plaque by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) "in recognition and appreciation of his dedication to and distinguished services for Palestine in the United Nations." The PLO was considered by the United States and Israel to be a terrorist organization until the Madrid Conference in 1991 but has enjoyed observer status at the United Nations since 1974. Pachachi was then appointed Foreign Minister of Iraq in 1965 by President Abdul Salam Arif; he stated the belief that his appointment to this position was at the behest of Gamel Abdel Nasser.

Following the outbreak of war with Israel on 5 June, Iraq severed diplomatic relations with the United States, suspended oil shipments, refused to permit U.S. aircraft to overfly Iraq, and announced a boycott of U.S. goods. Pachachi later denounced the ceasefire which ended the Six-Day War, dismissing it as a "complete surrender to Israel." In his memoirs Pachachi described the Arab defeat in 1967 as "a traumatic experience from which I never really recovered." He then served as Permanent Representative to the UN for a second time from 1967 to 1969. The Ba'ath Party came to power in July 1968, in a coup which Pachachi claimed was supported by the CIA, in an effort to distance Iraq from Gemal Abdel Nasser. Pachachi resigned from his post in January 1969 because as he put it "I felt it was morally wrong to represent a regime whose values I don't share." At the United Nations he was remembered for his rejections of Zionism and his refusal to recognise Kuwait. He then left Iraq in 1971.

Exile and Diplomatic career in the UAE

He went into in exile in Abu Dhabi, which had become independent. Sheik Zayed appointed Pachachi as Minister of State in the first Government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi; he took up his office on 1 July 1971. When the United Arab Emirates was formed on 2 December 1971, Pachachi immediately flew to New York and submitted the UAE's application for membership in the United Nations. Given his long career as Iraq's foreign minister and UN ambassador, Pachachi had many colleagues and contacts at the UN. "I saw that I had to convince two important permanent members of the Security Council, China and the Soviet Union, not to veto our application," he recalled. "At the time, there were close relations with the Communist Party in the south of Yemen, who opposed the creation of the UAE," he said. "So I had long talks with them, and assured them that the UAE would not enter into any anti-Communist alliances, would not be bound by any treaty obligations, and would join the ranks of the non-aligned countries." In 1973, as a result of US military support for Israel in the October War the UAE imposed an oil embargo, a move followed by other Arab oil-producing countries, and Pachachi was selected as the spokesman to convey Sheikh Zayed's message at the European Summit in Copenhagen. "We told them the embargo was imposed because of the large-scale military assistance given to Israel by the US, and we demanded justice for the Palestinians and the settlement of the conflict on the basis of total withdrawal of Israeli forces from Arab territories occupied in the 1967 war," he said. Pachachi was granted UAE citizenship in 1974 and served on the board of directors for entities including Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (Adia), and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Economic Development. He was also a member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and chairman of the General Projects Committee.

He described himself as a fervent Arab nationalist. In his memoirs he wrote that he was unable to accept Israel's existence and that Iraq and Syria should unite into one Arab state. During the Gulf war he wrote: "Whatever the outcome of the Kuwait crisis, the Arabs must continue their efforts to build a credible military alternative. The first imperative step toward reaching this goal is to achieve unity between Iraq and Syria. Without the unity of these two countries, the Arabs can never successfully resist Israel's armed might." Pachachi publicly opposed the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 and only renounced his nearly 40-year-old view that Kuwait was part of Iraq in 1999.

Events of 2003–2004

Pachachi had strongly opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq and was involved in creating an exile deal that the UAE offered Saddam Hussein in a last minute effort to avoid the impending war and suffering of the Iraqi people. Saddam allegedly accepted the offer to try to halt the invasion and bring elections to Iraq within six months, according to Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan; however, the invasion still went ahead. In February 2003, Pachachi refused a seat on the US-appointed six-member leadership council set up at a meeting of major opposition groups in the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq.

Pachachi vocally opposed the process of awarding out contracts to US firms after the ousting of the Ba'ath regime and criticised Washington over the plans for a US-led civilian authority to hand out reconstruction contracts without the approval of an elected Iraqi government.

After much deliberation Pachachi agreed to be part of the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) in July 2003 at the age of 80.

Pachachi accused the US military of war crimes during the First Battle of Fallujah which was codenamed Operation Vigilant Resolve. In April 2004, during the US military operations in the city, he spoke out angrily claiming the actions taken by US forces were "illegal and totally unacceptable".

On 1 June 2004, he was reportedly nominated to be the President of the Iraqi Interim Government by UN Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. He chose to decline the post publicly, stating that he turned down the position "because I was accused of being the choice of the Americans. I had to refuse this offer, in order to preserve my reputation and my honor. Trying to portray me as a little soft on the Americans when I have been struggling for Arab rights all my life is not only false, it is unfair. I find it really insulting."

Political activity after 2005

Pachachi put together a list of candidates called the Assembly of Independent Democrats (his party Democratic Centrist Tendency was included) to contest Iraq's January 2005 legislative election. Prior to the elections, Pachachi accused the United States of interfering in Iraq's affairs by insisting that the 30 January election go ahead on that date. Sunni Arab political and religious leaders, including Pachachi, called for a six-month delay arguing that the violence sweeping the country meant a free poll could not go ahead. "The strange thing is that America and Iran, who differ on everything, agree on one issue of holding elections on January 30," Pachachi told reporters. "It is not the business of the United States or Iran or any other country to talk about delaying or sticking to the date. We are very upset by such attempts as foreign states sharing their opinion in this issue. Let us try to agree among ourselves because external attempts might deter any agreement."

In May 2005 he commented "The current situation in this country is very serious, the security is terrible, the services are almost non-existent the provision of the essentials is extremely inadequate. There is rampant corruption and selfishness the Iraqi political class is only a bit better than that of the Congo."

For the December 2005 elections, he was elected as a member of the list headed by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. Following Arab political tradition, Pachachi opened the first session of the Iraqi National Assembly in April 2005, as the oldest member elected.

At the time of the March 2010 parliamentary election, Pachachi again stood as a candidate on Allawi's Iraqi List. He expressed serious concerns about the credibility of the election. He went on to blame the US invasion for the current state of the country and rampant sectarianism within it, stating "The Americans allowed a sectarian-based political system due to their beliefs that Iraqis are divided by their sectarian and ethnic background and that the political assembly must represent this truth. What the Americans did not understand was that Iraq long witnessed intermarriage between Sunnis and Shiites." As someone who has witnessed so much, and was involved in some of the most intense negotiations and treaties, he says one of his regrets is not seeing a different union succeed. "It is such a shame that Iraq and Syria did not unite, becoming the powerful heart of the Middle East. Instead, these two great nations, with such a great civilisation and such great hopes, became the heartache of the region," he says.


Pachachi was awarded with Abu Dhabi Awards, Emirate of Abu Dhabi's highest civilian award, by Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2016 for his services.


Pachachi died on 17 November 2019 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

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