Iraq Kurds name president’s cousin as their new PM

Published: Updated:

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 Erbil 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 travelling 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 ISIS extremist 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.