Iraqi Kurdistan names president’s cousin as their new PM

Masrour Barzani, who had been serving as national security adviser, is the son of veteran Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani. (AFP)
Updated 11 June 2019

Iraqi Kurdistan names president’s cousin as their new PM

  • Masrour Barzani, who had been serving as national security adviser, is the son of veteran Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani

IRBIL, Iraq: Iraqi Kurdistan’s parliament named Masrour Barzani as the region’s new premier on Tuesday, a day after his cousin was sworn in as its president.

Masrour Barzani, 50, is the son of longtime Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani and had been serving as national security adviser for the autonomous region since 2012.

He won the votes of 87 of the 97 members present in the region’s 111-seat chamber — more than his cousin received when he was elected president late last month.

PM-elect Barzani will have one month to form the autonomous region’s cabinet.

The cousins hail from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which was founded by their grandfather Mustafa in 1946 and remains dominated by the Barzani clan.

Its main rival, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), boycotted Nechirvan’s election as president but at least some of its MPs took part in Tuesday’s session.

Born in Irbil in 1969, Masrour joined the Kurdish security forces, known as the peshmerga, as a 16-year-old.

He attended school in neighboring Iran, then returned to Iraqi Kurdistan to take part in the 1991 uprising against then-dictator Saddam Hussein before traveling to the US to complete his graduate studies.

During his tenure as national security adviser, Barzani had a major role in the region’s fightback against the Islamic State jihadist group, which swept across a third of Iraq in 2014.

He succeeds his cousin Nechirvan who had served as prime minister since 2012.

Nechirvan is now the KRG’s second president after Masoud Barzani, who resigned after 12 years in office following a controversial 2017 referendum on Kurdish independence that prompted Baghdad to reoccupy large swathes of Kurdish-held territory.


Saudi-led military committee moves heavy weapons outside Aden

Updated 37 sec ago

Saudi-led military committee moves heavy weapons outside Aden

  • The internationally recognized government and the separatist Southern Transitional Council are obliged to hand over their heavy weapons

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: A military committee led by Saudi officers in Yemen has transported heavy weapons from bases in the southern port city of Aden, a committee member told Arab News on Friday. 

“We’ve moved tanks, cannons and ammunition from Aden military bases to a military outpost in Ras Abbas, on the outskirts of Aden,” said the member on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Under the Riyadh Agreement, the internationally recognized government and the separatist Southern Transitional Council are obliged to hand over their heavy weapons to the Saudi-led military committee, which is tasked with collecting them at a location outside Aden before dispatching them to battlefields. 

The committee is also charged with making other security and military arrangements, including the withdrawal of forces from the southern provinces of Shabwa and Abyan. 

The Riyadh Agreement, signed in the Saudi capital in November, was designed to defuse tensions between both sides following bloody clashes last year in Aden, Shabwa and Abyan. 

Residents in Aden reported seeing columns of lorries carrying tanks leaving military bases and heading to the city’s outskirts.

Despite failing to meet some deadlines included in the Riyadh Agreement, many of its terms have been implemented.

These include the return of the prime minister, the partial withdrawal of forces, an exchange of prisoners and the process of disarmament.

Following the relocation of military units, Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi is expected to appoint a new governor for Aden before forming a new government.

FASTFACT

Under the Riyadh Agreement, the internationally recognized government and the separatist Southern Transitional Council are obliged to hand over their heavy weapons to the Saudi-led military committee.

On the battlefield, heavy fighting continued on Friday in the Nehim district just outside Houthi-held Sanaa as government forces, backed by Saudi-led warplanes, pushed forward to pave the way for the liberation of the capital. Dozens have been killed since Wednesday as both sides claimed gains on the ground.

In Marib, senior army commanders on Friday said the army would keep pressing its offensive until the Houthis are expelled from Sanaa. 

At a meeting attended by the Saudi-led coalition commander in Marib, Maj. Gen. Abdul Hamed Al-Muzaini, Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Mohammed Ali Al-Maqdashi said the Yemeni Army is determined to push the Houthis out of Sanaa and other areas under their control, and to work on restoring state institutions. 

The commanders discussed military plans and the recent escalation of fighting in Nehim, Jouf and Marib.

The conflict in Yemen began in late 2014 when the Houthis seized Sanaa and began expanding across the country.

A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia has helped government forces advance on all fronts, pushing the Houthis to mountainous provinces in northern Yemen.