In August 2008 Masrur Barzani, son of Kurdistan regional President Masoud Barzani, went on trial in Austria for attempted murder. In February, the younger Barzani was arrested along with five of his bodyguards in Vienna for shooting Kurdish opposition writer Dr. Kamal Sayid Qadir. Qadir was seriously injured in the incident. He is an international law expert and professor in Austria, and a critic of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Kurdish officials originally denied that Masrur was even in the country, but he is now on trial for the attack.
Qadir is a former political prisoner of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). On October 26, 2005 he was arrested in Irbil by the KDP’s intelligence service the Parastin that Masrur heads, for criticizing President Barzani in a series of articles. Some of them said that Barzani worked with Iran to the detriment of Kurdistan and that the Parastin spied on Kurds in Europe. Dr. Qadir traveled from his home in Austria to lecture about the abuses of Barzani’s rule and set up a human rights group when he was detained. In December, Qadir was given a 30-year prison term by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) for “disgracing the Kurdish leadership and their struggle,” “inappropriate articles,” and cursing the Barzani tribe. According to Dr. Qadir, his trial only took 15 minutes. Those charges were later dropped, and he was sent for re-trial in March 2006. That time he received a longer sentence of 1-1/2 years in jail. A week later he was pardoned and released. While imprisoned, he went on a hunger strike. The Austrian government, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and others, all took up his case.
After his release, Dr. Qadir filed a lawsuit against Masrur Barzani and four other KDP officials in December 2006 in Austria. The suit charged them with kidnapping and torture. Qadir also continued to write critically about Kurdish rule. In a June 2007 piece for the Middle East Quarterly, he charged the Kurdish authorities of corruption, nepotism, torture, political assassinations, and other abuses. It’s these actions that probably led to his shooting in Vienna in February 2008 by Masrur’s men.
Masrur is also in charge of the General Committee for the Security of the Kurdistan Region, a member of the KPD politburo, and might replace his father as the eventual president of the Kurdish region.
Kurdistan is by far the most secure region of Iraq. Many also consider it the most democratic, but Qadir and others have criticized the strangle hold the two ruling parties, the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) have over the political system. In April 2008 for example, President Jalal Talabani banned all members of the PUK from criticizing the Kurdish government. In January, the BBC reported on an unpublished United Nations report that said thousands of people have been arrested by Kurdish authorities for political crimes and held with no trial or lawyer. Corruption and nepotism charges have also been widespread. Masrur’s trial is the first time a senior Kurdish official has been charged, but not surprisingly it is happening in Austria, not Iraq.
Agence France Presse, “Dr. Kamal Sayid Qadir released in Kurdistan today,” 1/25/06
Aqrawi, Shamal, “Writer ‘Dr. Kamal’ jailed for defaming Kurdish leader,” Reuters, 3/27/06
Associated Press, “Kurdistan Regional Government released the Kurdish writer Dr. Kamal Karim,” 4/3/06
Assyrian International News Agency, “Assyrian Security Force Needed in Iraq’s Nineveh Plain,” 2/21/08
Chapman, Charles, “30 years in prison for writing articles criticizing KDP and Massoud Barzani,” The Is-Ought Problem, 12/20/05
Clar, Kate, “Corruption in Iraqi Kurdistan,” BBC News, 1/11/08
Committee to Protect Journalists, “Committee to Protect Journalists protests 30-year jail term for Kurdish writer,” 1/12/06
DIHA, “Erbil’s Pamuk Dr. Seid Qadir imprisoned,” 12/22/05
Economist, “Does independence beckon?” 9/6/07
eKurd.net, “False news of Masrour Barzani’s arrests in Vienna,” 2/28/08
Hama-Tahir, Wrya, “Iraqi Kurds frustrated with own leaders, security forces,” Middle East Online, 2/18/08
Human Rights Watch, “Caught in the Whirlwind, Torture and Denial or Due Process by the Kurdistan Security Forces,” July 2007
Al Jazeera, “Iraq to help Turkey against PKK,” 10/23/07
Kurdish Media, “Kurdish lawmaker defends corruption in Kurdistan administration,” 5/26/08
Kurdistan Referendum Movement, “Amnesty International takes up the case of Dr Kamal Said Qadir,” 12/2/05
- “Kurdistan Referendum Movement condemns the arrest of Dr Kamal Said Qadir,” 11/2/05
KurdNet, “Barzani’s son Masrour Barzani arrested in Austria after attack on Dr. Kamal Qadir,” 2/21/08
- “Lawsuit filed against Masrour Barzani and 5 other officials,” 12/28/06
Kurdistan Satellite TV, “Iraqi Kurdistan President Barzani arrives in Kuwait,” Iraq News.com, 5/12/06
Mahmood, Azeez and Mahmood, Rebaz, “Talabani Supporters Rally Over Media Controversy,” Institute For War & Peace Reporting, 4/4/08
Middle East Quarterly, “Dissident Watch: Kamal Sayid Qadir,” Spring 2006
Mirawdeli, Dr. Kamal, “Dr Kamal Sayid Qadir gets worse in health on hunger strike,” DIHA, 1/2/06
Mohsen, Amer, “Iraq Papers Wed: Scandal!,” IraqSlogger.com, 8/13/08
Moore, Solomon, “Free Press Stumbles in Kurdistan,” Los Angeles Times, 3/27/06
Naqishbendi, Rauf, “Iraq: Flourishing corruption under American occupation,” Kurdish Media, 6/26/08
Qadir, Dr. Kamal, “Iraqi Kurdistan’s Downward Spiral,” Middle East Quarterly, 6/13/07
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “Iraq: Kurdish Intellectual Faces A Second Trial,” 3/7/06
- “Iraq: Kurdish Expert Comments on Defamation Case,” 1/30/06
Reporters Without Borders, “Reporters Without Borders wrote to President Barzani to intervene in Dr. Kamal case,” 1/9/06
PM Abadi and his military staff announcing start of Tal Afar operation (Al Noor News) US 82 nd Airborne troop...
The Iraqi forces (ISF) went back on the offensive after a one day pause. On March 5 there were no operations due to the poor weather. On...
How Is The Islamic State Dealing With Its Defeat In Mosul? Interview With Charlie Winter On IS Media OutputMore than half of Mosul has fallen to Iraqi government forces and it is only a matter of time before the whole city is retaken. How is the...
Wadi Hajar is the newest neighborhood freed by the Iraqi forces (Institute for the Study of War) The Iraqi forces were still fighti...