The Corner

Update: Masrour Barzani arrested in Vienna?

About a week ago, I had posted about reports that Masrour Barzani and his bodyguards had attacked and severely beat Kamal Said Qadir, a leading Kurdish critic of corruption in the Kurdistan Regional Government. Masud Barzani’s father runs that government; Masrour Barzani is his son and so was appointed intelligence chief.

Kamal Said Qadir had previously sued Masrour Barzani for torture after Masrour’s intelligence service had kidnapped Kamal during a visit to Erbil. Kamal had been freed only after pressure by international human rights organizations and European governments.

The Iraqi embassy in Vienna, controlled by Barzani’s political party, denies Kamal’s account of the assault and the Kurdish government has denied Masrour’s presence in Austria. Yet, Masrour—like many Barzani family members a staple on Kurdish television—has not been seen in Iraqi Kurdistan or on its television service since the assault occurred, increasing speculation about his arrest. The fact that the Austrian press is now covering the incident (here and here) will embarrass Masud Barzani, even if the Der Standard articles depict a situation still very murky.

At the very least, governments which claim to be democratic do not try to knock off dissidents in the style of Saddam.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.