Foster School faculty member Ali Tarhouni named finance minister by Libyan opposition

Ali A. Tarhouni, a senior lecturer in the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington, has been named finance minister by the Libyan opposition national council. The group is arranging a transitional government in the event Moammar Gadhafi is ousted from power.

“Tarhouni understands the Western mentality,” opposition spokeswoman Iman Bugaighis told Reuters. Rita Zawaideh, owner of Caravan-Serai Tours in Seattle and a friend of Tarhouni, confirmed that he has been named to the post.

“We hope Ali and his relatives are safe and not in harm’s way. We’re also proud to have one of our longtime faculty members playing a significant role in Libya’s transitional government,” said James Jiambalvo, dean of the Foster School.

Tarhouni holds a doctorate in economics and finance from Michigan State University.

A native of Libya who for 40 years has opposed Gadhafi, Tarhouni returned to Libya in early March. He has taught at the UW since 1985.

In a Voice of America interview published March 16, Tarhouni urged the United States and the United Nations to establish a no-fly zone over Libya.

“Trust me,” Tarhouni said. “There’s no fear of Gadhafi and his forces. We know he’s gone. It’s just a question of hours, days, maybe months. The question is how many innocent lives he’s going to take with him.”

Tarhouni is married to Mary Li, a lawyer for the Washington Attorney General’s office.

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Related links:

U.S. professor reflects on return home to Libya (National Public Radio)
Professor in U.S. is now Libyan opposition’s finance chief (CNN)
The double life of a popular UW lecturer (Seattle Times)
Libyan rebels name exiled academic as finance chief (Reuters)