Iraqi Kurds Set Security Council; Lawmakers Denounce Arms Race

Article Summary
Iraqi Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani established a Kurdistan National Security Council, spotlighting growing tensions between Northern Iraq and the central government, Siba al-Maamouri reports. Meanwhile, Iraqi MPs called for a halt in Kurdistan's arms buildup, saying it encroached on Baghdad's authority and fueled a divisive arms race.

Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani announced the establishment of a National Security Council meant to protect the lives and property of the region’s citizens. During a ceremony in Erbil marking the council's start on Monday, Barzani said it's an important step toward safeguarding the people of Kurdistan. He added that security forces recently devised a good security model, which has encouraged many foreign companies to invest in the region because of the improving security situation.

The Kurdistan National Security Council — created earlier this year — will be composed of the Asaish agency, the General Directorate of Military Intelligence and the Kurdistan region’s security and information agencies. Barzani was appointed National Security Council advisor at the ministerial level and Khosrow Cole Mohammed was appointed his deputy.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish region’s political blocs called for a halt of the current arms buildup because it threatens the country. The political blocs asked the central government to declare its official stance regarding the arming of the region and if this arming is legitimate and constitutional. Khalid al-Asadi, an MP from the State of Law party, told Az-Zaman that heavy weapons should remain in the hands of the central government forces and the Ministry of Defense.

Asadi added that the Kurdistan Alliance’s call for arms damages trust among political parties along with Iraq’s unity given that the Iraqi army is composed of all parties. He said that arms should therefore be confined to the central government forces, and that only light arms should go to the borders in the Kurdistan region. Al-Asadi called on Kurdish regional officials to defy the call to arms, asserting that it harms Kurdistan more than the rest of the country.

Iraqi List MP Muhammad Al-Khalidi responded that the Ministry of Defense has sovereignty over the entire region and that armament should only take place in coordination with the central government. Al-Khalidi told Azzaman on Monday [July 9] that the Kurdistan region’s arms buildup is the result of the dispute between it and the central government. He said that the Iraqi Constitution is all-inclusive and contains articles that cover this issue. He went on to say that it should be obeyed because the arms buildup would widen the split between the different blocs, and that the more coordination between the central government and the Kurdistan region the better.

Free Iraqi Bloc MP Alia Nassif said that all the political blocs should realize that the constitution is a lifeline in the current crisis. On Monday, she told Az-Zaman that weapons distribution is the responsibility of the central government, and that in the Kurdistan region alliances are emerging like in no other province. She said that arming the Kurdistan region with heavy weaponry will spur other provinces to arm, and that this poses grave risks for the country.

Nassif also called on the government to clarify its position on the arms buildup in Kurdistan. She pointed out that while the Kurdistan Regional Government is buying heavy weaponry, military equipment and Apache aircraft in an unjustified manner, KRG officials have been objecting to any effort by the central government to arm the Iraqi army.

Found in: pan-arabism, kurdistan, erbil, barzani, baghdad, arms, arab history

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