Kurdistan’s ‘$265 million’ National Security Council: Nepotism not good governance

By Michael Rubin:

While Kurdish officials often describe the Iraqi Kurdistan region as a democracy, both the region’s reputation and its democratic trajectory took a huge leap backwards last week with President Barzani’s creation by fiat of the National Security Council.

In theory, coordinating security and policy is noble and can be the hallmark of good governance rather than totalitarianism. Kurdish governance has for too long been bifurcated as neither the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan nor the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has wanted to give up the power and trappings of office, in effect, leading to a bloated, inefficient bureaucracy which persists to the present. Government downsizing, with more money spent on vital infrastructure rather than state salaries and pensions, could set Kurdistan on the path to be a regional economic power.

Kurdistan’s National Security Council, however, appears directed more toward confirming Masud Barzani’s autocratic tendencies than reform. The problem with the new Council is two-fold, however. First, it reaffirms nepotism. Regional leader Masud Barzani appointed his eldest son Masrour to head the body. Just as with the Assad family in Syria, the Qadhafi clan in Libya, and Saddam Hussein’s sons in Iraq, Masud Barzani now sheds any pretence of democracy as he seeks to use trusted family henchmen regardless of competence or character to control all aspects of power and commerce.

Masud, of course, shows no intention to step down when his second term as president ends next year. His nephew Nechirvan is again officially prime minister, after managing government affairs only behind-the-scenes during Barham Salih’s interlude. Masrour is now not only the head of the National Security Council, but he also heads the KDP’s intelligence service. It is probably no coincidence that Falah Mustafa, a prominent spokesman for the KDP’s government, did not even bother to recycle the usual talking points about Kurdistan being a democracy in a recent essay published by The Huffington Post’s United Kingdom edition. That Masud apparently believes that there are no Kurds more capable than his own son to head the new Council reflects the disdain Barzani now engenders for the people he claims a birthright to represent. Masud, who already suffers a poor reputation in Washington, a city whose officials listen far more to Barham Salih, has simply confirmed the worst suspicions regarding his personality and intent.

Far more dangerous is the fact that the appointment means that the National Security Council will be powerless to coordinate and demand accountability for Kurdish security forces and elite military units which, under the leadership of Masrour and unstable second son Mansour, have run amok. Masrour’s security forces are widely believed complicit in the deaths of journalists and civil society activists. A true national security advisor would be independent of the bureaucracies he or she was to supervise to ensure that security forces and elite military units fought only terrorists and external threats rather than university students and newspaper editors critical of Masud’s corruption. In effect, Masrour’s career now mirrors the trajectory of Qusay Saddam Hussein, whose father appointed him to supervise the Iraqi Republican Guards and head the Special Security Organization. Like Qusay, Masrour is the heir apparent to Kurdish leadership, and like Qusay, Masrour has cultivated a reputation for quiet cruelty.

A final insult inherent in the new Security Council is its budget. Its reported $265 million budget purse is more than 20 times greater than the budget of the United States’ National Security Council, which in 2010 operated on just $12,231,000. Alas, as Masud’s grip tightens, he increasingly seems to set Kurdistan down a trajectory traveled by Arab autocracies. That he would sacrifice Kurdish aspirations for the ability of profligate sons to act with impunity is simply the latest misfortune in a Kurdish history already beset by too much tragedy.

Copyright © 2012 Kurdistantribune.com

25 Responses to Kurdistan’s ‘$265 million’ National Security Council: Nepotism not good governance
  1. Chalank
    July 12, 2012 | 18:07

    the natural question that follow is for this cause hundreds of american solders lost their lives in April 2003 ? Are these the values of the free world that you wanted to spread across Iraq including Kurdistan . The guy is sitting on US support and condoner of every thing masud does to poor people . In Arbil and Duhok , people living under circumstance much similar to saddam . Immortal forever leader immortal sons immortal family immortal cemeteries immortal party . Stalinian secerte police criminal security service and so forth . It is time that Washington DC act in favour of free world values.

  2. Serwan
    July 12, 2012 | 19:46

    Masoud Barzani is the creation if the United States and the west. Mr Rubin, this same Masyd existed 10 years ago when you and all the other US representatives were extending your hands to. Even Masuds father played the game of nepotism. We have know this for a long time but unfortunately because Masud enjoyed UzsA support all these years the Kurds really had little chance of replacing him.

    Trust me if another round of election takes place and the Islamists win (and honestly I would not like it) but if that were to happen would the west accept those results or are they just going to turn around and support Masud? What do you think Mr Rubin?

    Current Kurdish opposition is still weak because as of now I think the west would be more willing to accept Masud than the opposition.

    • Soran
      July 13, 2012 | 09:08

      In my view the PUK is hugely responsible for the creation of a totalitarism in Kurdistan. For the sake of their own interests a group of weak, selfsih PUK leaders lead us into this mess. I am truly embarrassed by this example of governance that that we, the Kurds, have demonstrated. The region is witnessing the fall one dictator after another and yet Mr Barzani is busy creating one in Kurdistan. A real problem when a nation is plagued by an ill educated leader.

  3. Mahabad
    July 12, 2012 | 19:56

    I blame the opposition for this to a great extent. What is stopping them from putting their hands together and hit the streets in demonstration?

  4. Arsalan Ahmed / Hawlir
    July 13, 2012 | 03:48

    Masud has a criminal group that are ready to do anything they and burnt all yekrtoo quarters twice in 2004 and few months ago killing many innocent people using masroor secret police.

    killed young student sardasht because he criticized them and they can kill anyone does not bow to them . Masroor terrorized activist Kamal Qader for calling to end barzani autocracy.Masroor is accused of hundreds more crimes . Masroor has stolen millions of dollars from the budget and bought a home for 10 millions in Washington . Masroor is suspected of criminal activities that should be investigated .

    Masud father mala mustfa burnt more than 1000 Kurdish villages in 1961 becuase they refused mala madness and thousands expelled from their homes and livelihood and later on joined Iraqi governments paramilitias to fight mala mustfa mafia .

  5. kawa
    July 13, 2012 | 09:32

    I agree with all the above comments, it is the hypocritical US policies that allow the Middle East dictators to rule with spreading fear and corruption, the US turns a blind eye to all this, then extremism will grow and the country will be left in a mayhem! why the US does not pressure Barzani to stop these heinous illegal practices?

    • Aram
      July 13, 2012 | 13:02

      Prevention is better of the treatment, dictatorship will be built on the internal and external silence. USA silence or turning a blind eyes to speed up lead into the trap of dictatorship..

  6. Redar Hawleri
    July 13, 2012 | 13:08

    Robin and Many other Americans like you are the source of all troubles around the world, First you invaded Iraq based on lies then gave it to Iran and its puppets in Iraq. Then you praised Kurdistan as if it became the heaven under you Americans, now what are you trying to say and do? By the way Michael Rubin, Zalmay KLhalil Zade is living in Erbil for many years and stealing Kurdistan oil and many others like him and Condoliza Rice started doing the same business, why you dont write on them and what they caused to Iraqi people and even american soldiers who died for nothing? We are waiting…

  7. ریزیار
    July 13, 2012 | 13:33

    thanks for micheal rubin ,he loves a kurd really

  8. HARDY
    July 13, 2012 | 13:46

    Yes, that say all true , thanks for your information Mr RUBIN.That is same of the stolen money they are a big Mafia.I don’t know how and where spending that money !!!!!

  9. azad
    July 13, 2012 | 14:36

    Why Kurdistan Region Security Council, the budget 20 times larger than the United States, you can find an explanation for this because Barzani, and the family members of Iraqi-Kurdistan become a power in the principality in the Middle East, the larger the clan of greater security budget!

  10. Hawker
    July 13, 2012 | 14:58

    Mr Michael Rubin,
    Thank you for your article. Would you mind answering some of the question that were brought up by readers above? can’t respect your words a lot when you have a history of being friends with the current Kurdish dictators in past. But have to respect fact that you do write such things about Barzani, although not new facts to us as we all know. What is your main motive writing about Kurds? Independent state that is buffer to Turkey , Iran and Syria? You see. Kurds are very much used to foreign friends and their interests. We have no friends. Everyone has their agendas do what is yours ?

  11. […]  http://kurdistantribune.com/2012/kurdistans-265-million-dollar-national-security-council-nepotism-not-good-governance/ جاری بینراو :2 […]

    • ali
      July 13, 2012 | 17:36

      God bless you MR Rubin,i appreciated for this news, updated Barzani&Talabani please!!

  12. Balen
    July 13, 2012 | 15:27

    When you hear “face is not the problem” from the opposition figures in Kurdistan, you know that they have no intention in seeing a real change towards democracy. What they actually mean is “We ourselves have no intention to leave the scenes for others”.

    Face is a crucial factor in identifying a system. Only in dictatorial systems you see one or very few faces remain in power for longer than 2 standard or 3 short terms. The problem we have in Kurdistan/Iraq is that, we do not have any organisation that has a real programme towards democracy. And when we say “democracy” we mean that of the Western powers, not that of the powers like Venezuela or China. The present organisations (from political parties to the smallest civil ones) have either Islamic programmes, based on either modern or conservative Sharia Law, or they have programmes that are more or less based on Marxism. This is very unfortunate since both of these ideologies have been failing to produce a working, democratic system.

    It doesn’t stop there, even our so called “free media” are also inclined or have sympathy for one or both of these ideologies. They would rather see a Syrian model than to hear the expression “free market”. These two ideologies in Kurdistan are united since they both have a common enemy “capitalism”. It’s no surprise to hear Mr Mullah Krekar praising Goran, because the leaders of Goran, with all the claims of modernity, have not been able to give up Marxism and seek understanding a working system of governance such as Japan’s, Europe’s or the USA’s.

    The outstanding majority of the general public is also ignorant of the types of systems, history of the world, science, etc that are the very first requirement of democracy. Again, the only reason is because of the ideologies mentioned above. These ideologies, quite openly, discourage reasoning and freedom.

    The only solution is education. But how you introduce right education in a system that’s sunk in Islam and Marxism?! It’s a dead end!

  13. Mahdi
    July 13, 2012 | 16:47

    Michael Rubin is a hypocrite like many others who benefited from the war. They created a war propaganda during the Bush administration and if Romney wins you will see the same faces, including Rubin, come to the front pushing new agendas for a new war.

    Don’t ever think that the Kurdish intellectuals will fall for the fake love again. Enjoy the blind following of a certain group of Kurds in DC who are naive and shortsighted. We know our true friends from the fake ones. The Iraq war hurt all of us m

  14. Saman
    July 13, 2012 | 18:17

    These words are harsh realities. Yes, Saddam died, but his ideology is alive and practiced by Masoud. yes, Qusay died, but Qusay not only a young man, he is an ideology represented by Masrour and the like. I wonder when the people of Kurdistan awaken and raise their voices against these financial and political scandals practice by a clan leader and his clan men!?

  15. Karim
    July 13, 2012 | 18:53

    Dear Sir
    Are you seriosly sugesting That this kind of so called leaders do understand the meaning of Dyarchy, Nepotism they Will face the same desteny as Sadam and Ghadafi,
    They are à simple crooke that reign the people of Kurdistan, When the rest of the kurdish nation will rise thier heads Will Rolle on the roads of kurdistan. They Will not be rememberd as hero except à Clan of traitors.ö

  16. sheran
    July 13, 2012 | 21:18

    Dear Sir
    we are appreciate your great attention about kurdish issue, please be a care about yourself so they have a big Mafia they can do what they want they do not afraid from anything they are head of A Big mafia.
    Pleas take care about yourself God bless you


  17. Kurdawari
    July 13, 2012 | 23:04

    bravo michael rubin. i agree with you. we have a big problem with the Police State in kurdistan…

  18. saber Kurdi
    July 13, 2012 | 23:17

    hi dear
    Maoud Barzani is creation of all this security we have right now in Kurdistan , we all know Iran , turkey , syria and all arabic Muslims countries trying to destroy Kurdistan land coz of them jealousy they want to spoil Kurdistan Security , but coz of Masud Barzani’s son we have secure life without scare , Kurdistan isn’t like other place dear , u can see by Kurdistan and iraq situations how different between both place , do you think Islamic parties will give us such security? as Masud barzani given to Kurdish ppl? Or Other parties which make Good relations with Iran like Goran ? or YNK ? i am agree for one thing here you maybe right everyone must participate to this government but without Masud’s son belive me kurdistan will be place for terrorist and everyone will try to Bomb our country when you dont know anything about our country please dnt judge about anything come here and leave study about past and make compare between Iraq situation during war and Kurdistan just Masud and his son could give us this heaven it’s Our land and we know to decide what we dnt need anyone come and judge about something fake . with My regards

  19. saber Kurdi
    July 13, 2012 | 23:25

    I am so sorry about peoples whom dont know anything about policy they just act smart and try to make Barzani’s personality bad by talking bad about them you can only see few bad things but cant see coz of Barzani we are in heaven now , do u remember when we didnt have anything to eat ? i remember my cousin dead coz of food we didnt have anything but now we have everything money , oil , food , home and what you imagine we have do u know how this all come for us ? believe me I dont even have home in Kurdistan am poor man but i cant say lie about Masud Barzani and what he did for this people , please dont judge when you guys dnt know anything about


  20. Abbas
    July 14, 2012 | 00:58

    Oh Michael, isn’t it sad that Masoud Barzani is presdient of Kurdistan Region and his newphew is Prime Minister of Kurdistan and his son Minister of Asaysh..

    and then Masoud says Maliki is dictator?
    ?!! some says he even fired Quabad Talabni so he replaces him with one of his family member, or someone but a family member behind the scene

  21. Salar Salim Sewaily
    July 14, 2012 | 12:20

    Love you Michael Rubin.

  22. P
    July 15, 2012 | 14:52

    We dont need your advice Mr Rubin. Dont be fooled my fellow kurds, the Americans alone have half of the worlds defence budget. We sure have corruption problems but still it is hundreds times better than being arabized/turkified and persified slaves. KRG needs its time to reform and we better concentrate liberating our kurdish brothers under the slavery of other countries.

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