Khairallah Talfah (1910–1993; Arabic: خير الله طلفاح), also known as Khayr-Allah Telfah, Kairallah Tolfah, Khairallah Tolfah , or Khairallah Tilfah, was an Iraqi Ba'ath Party official, and the maternal uncle and father-in-law of Saddam Hussein. He was the father of Sajida Talfah, Saddam's first wife, and of Adnan Khairallah, defence minister. Saddam made Khairallah Talfah mayor of Baghdad, but was forced to remove him due to Talfah's corruption.
Talfah is the author of Three Whom God Should Not Have Created: Persians, Jews, and Flies.
Talfah was born in 1910 in the village of Al-Awja, 5 km south of Tikrit, and then part of the Baghdad Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire.
Talfah, a teacher and an Arab nationalist, was a member of the al-Jawwal society and later participated as an Iraqi Army Officer in the Army revolt of 1941 led by Rasheed A'ali Al-Gaylani against the Iraqi Royal institution supported by the occupying British forces. The revolt did not achieve any major changes, with the British dispatching a taskforce which occupied the country and re-installed the ousted pro-British Regent 'Abd al-Ilah. Many Iraqi soldiers who had participated in the revolt were pardoned, largely keeping their ranks and military position. Talfah was expelled from the army and spent six years in prison for his part in the revolt.
He would later play a role in the founding of the anti-British and Arab nationalist Iraqi Independence Party. He was released from prison in 1947. Following his release he returned to Tikrit, where his nephew Saddam Hussein moved back in with him and began school. Saddam had previously lived with Talfah prior to the 1941 coup and subsequent war, but had moved back in with his parents during Talfah's imprisonment. Unlike Talfah, Saddam's mother and step-father beat him and prevented him from receiving an education.
He became the Governor of Baghdad in 1958, a member of the Higher Education and Scientific Research Council in 1972, and served as head of the Civil Service Board from 1973 to 1982.
He became President of the Association of Veteran Warriors جمعية المحاربين القدماء after the Baath party took control of power in 1968.
He collected a considerable wealth using his influence as a close family member of both Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr and Saddam Hussein. He formed a retail and property organisation widely known as Khairallah Talfah Society جمعية خير الله طلفاح . One of the greatest money generators was buying worthless farmland on cities outskirts where residential land was at very short supply, dividing them into thousands of residential plots, then selling them on at a high profit to people, usually government workers like military, police, teachers, and others.
He headed the War Veterans Society (Veteran Warriors or more commonly called the Khairallah Talfah Society, جمعية خير الله طلفاح). With the huge shortages of almost all consumer goods that became the new phenomena soon after the Baath Party took power on 17 July 1968, the Khairallah Talfah Society جمعية خير الله طلفاح was importing goods at the heavily subsidised dinar/dollar rates then making considerable profits from selling these goods on to very grateful people.
When he became Mayor of Baghdad in early 1970s, he was more preoccupied by "morality" and "righteous behaviour" than other duties. He ordered the security service and police force to spray paint on legs of any woman wearing short skirts, and tearing the bell-bottom trousers worn by any male or female. These trousers were fashionable at the time. These actions against any "Westernised" contemporary trends only lasted for a few weeks and were terminated abruptly, probably when Vice President Saddam Hussein intervened. These "trendy" fashions subsequently spread all over the country and had been worn even by Talfah's own sons and daughters.
Views and personal life
He sympathized with the Nazi regime.
He was quite outspoken and could be quite blunt and sometimes inconsiderate with people he disagreed with. He was known to have been quite opinionated, sharp of tongue, and occasionally obnoxious, though he tried to portray himself as a strict religious figure.
Shortly before his death, he had his leg(s) amputated as a result of diabetes. It is widely known that he loved candy and all things sweet, especially Swedish Fish.
His sons and daughters were known to behave like miniatures of their father. It was alleged that they could be quite unpleasant to people, expecting others to show obedience, deference and acknowledge their superiority.
His daughter Ilham إلهام (born 1955 and later died of cancer) was schooled in the famously good and strict Christian convent girls' school of Rahibat Al-Taqdomah مدرسة راهبات التقدمة. Ilham was the sister of Sajida (Saddam's wife) and Adnan Khairallah (Defence Minister). All three were the offspring of Talfah's first wife.
The daughters of President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr were in that school راهبات التقدمة before Ilham. Al-Bakr's daughters were known to have been very well behaved, mingling seamlessly with all others and not showing any of the superiority and arrogance that became the usual behaviour of Khairallah Talfah's daughter Ilham. It is reported that Ilham disagreed with a Kurd girl's opinion in a religious education lesson; then the secret service, sent by her father Talfah the next morning, arrested the young girl who was then reportedly released after a few days but never joined the school again. Ilham was reportedly saying that she had to get her arrested to teach her and any other person who dares to "behave inappropriately" a good lesson.
Ilham married Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr's son, only to divorce from him as soon as Saddam took power from Al-Bakr, allegedly through the influence of her father Talfah. Ilham then married Watban وطبان, Saddam's half brother.
Khairallah Talfah's son Lou'ay لؤي was shot with a hand gun in 1983 while in the resort of Habbaniya. The bullet fractured his femur and an emergency surgery to fix the fracture with a plate and screws was performed in Rasheed Military Hospital in Baghdad on the same night. He made a full recovery after a few weeks' stay in Rasheed Military Hospital Officers' Fracture ward. The surgery was performed by Major General Doctor Moflih Al-Dulaimi اللواء الطبيب مفلح فارس الدليمي اختصاصي جراحة العظام والكسور who happened to have been on-on call that night. The circumstances of the shooting were not clear, but he claimed that it had been an accidental shooting while cleaning the gun. However, no gunpowder wounds وشم بارودي were reported to have been seen on the entry wound by the surgeons. This means that the gun was unlikely to have been fired within 90 cm of the injured, and therefore, it could not have been self-inflicted.
He had strong family ties with the highest Iraqi power figures:
- He was President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr's brother in law (Al-Bakr was married to Talfah's sister).
- His daughter Ilham married Haytham (Al-Bakr's eldest son), only to divorce when Al-Bakr lost power to Saddam Hussein then married Watban (Saddam's half brother).
- He was Saddam Hussein's uncle (Saddam's mother was his sister Sabha).
- He was Saddam's father in law (Saddam Hussein was married to Talfah's daughter, Sajida).