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Last Updated: Monday, 9 May 2005, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
Profile: Iraqi defence minister
Saadoun al-Dulaimi
Mr Dulaimi has been highly critical of the US-led occupation
The new Iraqi Defence Minister, Saadoun al-Dulaimi, would seem well-placed to take over his portfolio, at a time when the country faces a major escalation in insurgent violence.

A Sunni Arab with roots in the western Anbar province, one of the most active hotbeds of resistance, his appointment represents part of a government strategy to cut the ground from under the feet of the insurgency.

As head of 60,000 troops, his task will be to build up the national army as an eventual replacement for the US-led coalition forces.

National Assembly member Mishan al-Jubouri said he had the overwhelming support of Sunni groups both within the assembly and in opposition to the current political process.

Mr Jubouri described him as balanced, patient and a great communicator.

Sentenced to death

Fluent in English and described as moderate and secular, Mr Dulaimi is a respected psychologist and statistician.

He was born into a wealthy family and one of Iraq's most influential tribes in the town of Ramadi in 1954.

A reserve officer in Saddam Hussein's army, he left during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

He obtained a doctorate in social psychology from the UK's Keele University, and has taught in Jordan and the US.

He became active in opposition to Saddam Hussein, who sentenced him to death in absentia and confiscated his assets.

Returning from exile in 2003, he set up the Baghdad-based Centre for Research and Strategic Studies. The centre conducted most of the country's opinion polls, which have shown increasing dissatisfaction with the US occupation.

Correspondents say Mr Dulaimi was highly critical of the rule of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the administration of the US-led occupying forces set up immediately after Saddam Hussein's fall.

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