The Saga of Kurdistan’s Security Council

July 17, 2012

The saga over the appointment of Masrour Barzani as national security advisor and Dr. Khasraw Gul-Muhammad as his deputy is a clear indication of the unhealthy relationship that exists between the ruling parties and the opposition.

It is also an indication of the lack of institutionalized thinking and behavior of authorities in the region. The security portfolio has been a problem since its inception, cooking on a slow fire.

First, it was the status of the two security forces that were part of the party system and not the government, and then the issue of their unification. After that it was the passing of legislation that established the security council. The appointment of the security head and his deputy is the latest episode.

At almost every stage of the process, the government and the president on the one hand, and the opposition on the other, have been in conflict and had completely opposing views on the shape and form of the security portfolio.

Starting from the law that established the council, to the appointment of the head and deputy of the council, the government and the opposition have held different views. The opposition asked for the law to return to parliament and be amended, but the ruling parties went ahead and passed the legislation.

This new episode in the ongoing saga between the government and the opposition is further damaging the prospects of a healthy relationship between the two and is moving the region a step further from having institutionalized rule.

While the authorities are defending the decision and saying that nothing prevents the president from appointing his son, the opposition is adamant that the process could have been more inclusive and the views of the others should have been taken seriously.

While pro-government media is citing examples of families ruling countries, like the Ghandis, the Kennedys and the Bush family, pro-opposition media is talking about stories closer to home, and ruling families of the Middle East.

The tone and level of argument is indicative of the gap between the two and the danger of this is that the region’s security establishment could be undermined and public trust damaged.

Security in Kurdistan has been one advantage the region has had over the rest of the country. The key to this has been people’s sense of ownership of the region and its safety and security.

This latest development could harm that if the relationship between the government and the opposition parties remains as it is today.

The onus of changing this lies heavily with the president. As with security, the president is for all sides. He should work on bringing the sides closer.

As for the opposition, they should realize that the legislation and appointment of the president’s son as the head seem to be facts of life now. They should be careful to not undermine the security of the region.

But the big responsibility lies with Masrour Barzani, whose task it will be to stand at an equal distance from all and prove that he is not there because he is Mr. Barzani’s son. One possible step would be to resign from the KDP.

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