Q22.

Are senior positions within the intelligence services filled on the basis of objective selection criteria, and are appointees subject to investigation of their suitability and prior conduct?

22a. Objective selection criteria

Score

SCORE: 0/100

Assessor Explanation

22b. Selection bias

Score

SCORE: NEI/100

Assessor Explanation

22c. Vetting process

Score

SCORE: NEI/100

Assessor Explanation

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Because the Direction of Security Services (DSS) was established by an unpublished presidential decree in 2016 (1), it is not possible to know whether there are any formal selection criteria for senior positions. Furthermore, no further information in this regard on its predecessor, the Department of Intelligence and Security (DRS), could be found, including selection criteria for senior ranks (2), see the country’s last assessment (3).

From what is known about the intelligence services, senior positions seem to be chosen based on political loyalty. The patronage method of the Algerian political system highly suggests that there is a selection bias (1). Constitutionally, the President of the Republic is in charge of nominating officers of the security organs (Art. 92, 2).

Information on the heads of the DRS/DSS or any lower-ranking members is very scarce. The last example illustrating the clientelistic structure of the system that has become publicly known is the dismissal of the former head of the DRS General Mohamed Lamine Mediène called “Toufik”. He had run the service for over 25 years and was replaced by Athmane Tartag in 2015. Tartag had reportedly allied himself with President Bouteflika when he worked for him as a presidential advisor (3). It was also reported that Tartag is a protégé of the president’s brother (4).

Given the secrecy of the intelligence services in Algeria (1), there is no information available of whether there is an internal vetting process. According to Hachemaoui, the secret police has controlled the recruitment process of key positions in the military and civilian state organs (2).

According to Art. 122 of the 2010 Constitution, the president, as the commander-in-chief, has the power to appoint and dismiss senior officials of the intelligence services, upon consulting the National Security Council (1). There is no evidence of the existence of objective selection criteria or its application.

Given the broad constitutional powers of the president to appoint and dismiss senior officials of the intelligence services and the absence of a formal vetting process or any checks by the parliament. Additionally, because of the dominance of the ruling party in all state institutions, loyalty to the President of the Republic and the ruling party appear to be the main selection criteria (1).

A Freedom House report states, “Executive powers are broad and varied. Under dos Santos, legislation was frequently passed through a presidential decree. Before leaving office, President dos Santos signed several decrees ensuring the continuation of key officials in the economy and military sectors” (1).

The appointment and dismissal of members of state intelligence and security bodies are made in consultation with the National Security Council, but there is no formal or informal vetting process on its part (Art. 122 and 136 of the 2010 Constitution) (1). There is no specific evidence of a vetting process in the intelligence services.

The criteria for the selection of senior positions is unclear; there are no legal guidelines. It is
possible that the appointment of the current Head of the ANR Colonel François Ouedraogo was made based on his relationships with the President, as his former support staff at the National Assembly/ Parliament (1). Nevertheless, Colonel Ouedraogo has the experience required for the job, as he was the former Director of the Security and Computer Services National Agency (ANSSI). According to the Constitution, the president appoints the prime minister, as well as the heads of institutions (2). The president can select or appoint anyone it wants in these kinds of positions without any objection from the Parliament or the judiciary branch (3).

Senior positions in the ANR are more likely to be a reward or gift for satisfactory results in previous positions or political affiliation than an achievement of merit. Since its creation, there has not been a call for applications to fill a position within the ANR, and there is no evidence that this will change soon. The appointment of the current head of the agency was not made before a call for applications. He got appointed for his past professional relations with the president, while still leading the National Assembly (1). The system in place, organized by the Constitution of 1991, provides the president with strong powers and privileges (2). Although under the former Prime Minister Tertius Zongo, a committee was set up within the Prime Ministers Office to promote management based on results it has been criticized for being biased (3), (4).

As part of the hiring process, a little investigation is performed (sometimes not at all) on selected candidates, to fulfil the standard procedure, immediately preceding the time when the individual gets their new position (1). Often, the period between the appointment of office and the day the appointee takes office, is very short, meaning that not much vetting work has been done. Regardless, the vetting process is seen as a formality, as the appointee is often a former colleague or political partner (2). No evidence of vetting process being applied was found in cases of promotion.

Generally, recruitment into the military, police and gendamerie is characterised by some level of nepotism. In the same manner, though appointments and promotions to senior positions are required to be based on competitive examinations that qualifies one to be in a certain position within the system before promotion, such appointments are often marred by despotism, ethnic considerations and position buying. Appointments to some key positions are left at the discretion of the Head of State and are believed to be influenced by ethnic ties [1].

“Ngo’o served in the Cameroonian government as Defence Minister from 2009-2015, making him one of the longest-serving defence ministers in the country. He was sacked from the government in 2017 after serving as Minister of Transport from 2015-2017. According to sources at Cameroon’s presidency, he was a “confidant” and “an important security adviser” to President Paul Biya during his stay in government” [1].

However, there is also the belief that some members of the military and police including the intelligence services are appointed based on their qualifications [2] [3] [4].

According to Jeune Afrique (20 March, 2018), “Admittedly, the civilian, police and military staff of the DGRE continue to file cases against opponents of the regime of Paul Biya. But their priority today is to lead the war against terrorism, support the fight against organised crime, ensure the protection of the country’s economic and industrial heritage, and fight against corruption. They are now applying themselves to make DGRE a unit of geostrategic intelligence and reflection at the service of the State… The structure still has a bad reputation, but the 2010 appointment of Leopold Maxime Eko Eko to the position of General Manager was rather well received. This divisional commissioner, economically literate, a fervent Christian who knows the system perfectly for having spent nearly thirty years working in it, is known for having negotiated the release of the nine sailors of Bourbon Sagitta, kidnapped off Cameroon in November 2008” [2].

As a result of the patron-client relationship that often exists between the President of the Republic, who is also Chief of the Armed Forces, and his political appointees, it is a fact that appointments are made based on ethnic affiliations. Those in higher positions often appoint others from their ethnic groups to key strategic roles [1].

Appointments to some key positions are at the discretion of the Head of State and are believed to be influenced by ethnic ties [2].

“Ngo’o served in the Cameroonian government as Defence Minister from 2009-2015, making him one of the longest-serving defence ministers in the country. He was sacked from the government in 2017 after serving as Minister of Transport from 2015-2017. According to sources at Cameroon’s presidency, he was a “confidant” and “an important security adviser” to President Paul Biya during his stay in government” [2].

This is done at the discretion of the Head of State and there are no mechanisms in place to determine the credibility of the process [1] [2].

Given the centralization of the Coordination Nationale du Renseignement (CNR) within the executive since 2014, it is not possible to discern whether the intelligence services are subject to objective selection criteria.

On the official website of President Outtara, the CNR appears under the subheading “Les Affaires Présidentielles”, and is accountable to the Minister of Presidential Affairs and the Directeur de Cabinet (Chief of Staff), a powerful position in the government hierarchy (1).

Given the centralization of the CNR within the executive, the president himself, the minister of presidential affairs or the chief of staff most likely appoint candidates to senior positions in the intelligence services.

Given the extreme centralization of the CNR within the executive, the vetting process of individual candidates is restricted to a small circle of people with no external parties involved. The president, the minister of presidential affairs and the chief of staff appear to be the only officials involved in the selection process.

On the official website of President Ouattara, the CNR appears under the subheading “Les Affaires Présidentielles,” and is accountable to the minister of presidential affairs and the Directeur de Cabinet, a powerful position in the government hierarchy (1).

Given the extreme centralization of the CNR within the Executive, the vetting process of individual candidates is restricted to a small circle of people with no external parties involved. The President, the Minister of Presidential Affairs and the Chief of Staff appear to be the only officials involved in the selection process.

On the official website of President Ouattara, the CNR appears under the subheading “Les Affaires Présidentielles,” and is accountable to the Minister of Presidential Affairs and to the Directeur de Cabinet (Chief of Staff), a powerful position in the government hierarchy. (1)

According to our sources, the selection procedures and criteria of senior intelligence officers are not only unclear, but it is also known to be nepotistic, rewarding loyalty to the president. Although some laws specify the criteria, they are ignored by the president when it comes to appointments (1), (2), (3). Articles 13 to 15 of the General Intelligence Law no. 100 (1971) specify a list of objective criteria for selecting members of the GI (4), but due to the secretive nature of its operations and the heavy punishment for spreading any information about the GI, it is difficult to know if these criteria are implemented (Articles 48 and 80 of the GI Law).

According to our sources, senior positions of the intelligence are most gifts for loyalists. The president as the head of the state distributes these gifts to his loyalists (1), (2), (3). Due to the nature of its operation, loyalty to the political regime is certainly the single most important criteria. The law says that GI employees must not be politically active or be members of any political party, but the issue of trust is crucial especially that the director is appointed directly by the president (4).

According to our sources, the appointments decrees are based on suggestions from the closed inner circle of the president, and there is no vetting process in the selection or appointment of senior intelligence officers. It is not based on meritocracy or suitability but on how they can support the president (1), (2), (3).

The selection criteria for the senior positions within the intelligence services are not made publicly available by the Ministry of National Security or the Ministry of Defence (1), (2).

Senior positions in the intelligence services are appointed by the executive branch. According to Section13.2 of the Security and Intelligence Agencies Act (1996), “The Directors shall be appointed by the President in accordance with the advice of the Council given in consultation with the Public Services Commission and upon such terms and conditions as shall be determined by the appointing authority” (1).

The National Security Council is comprised of the president, vice-president, ministers and high-level officials of the defence and security institutions. The Public Services Commission exercises regulatory, supervisory, and consultative functions of the appointments within the public service servants (2).

The executive also nominates the members of the Public Services Commission, senior positions in the intelligence services are primarily a gift of the executive (3), (4), (5).

The current legal framework does not allow the parliament to scrutinise the appointments of senior positions within the intelligence services. Furthermore, no investigation of candidates’ suitability through vetting made by an external party is in place (1), (2).

The criteria for selection for senior positions within the intelligence sector in Jordan is unclear. Historically, the appointments of the chief of intelligence services have taken place through Royal Decrees [1, 2 and 3]. According to the Official Site of the Jordanian e-Government portal, the Chief of the General Intelligence Directorate is appointed by Royal Decree, and recruitment for other positions within the intelligence stipulates that candidates must possess educational qualifications and must pass a security check [4]. However, senior positions within the intelligence services, other than the chief, are usually filled through appointments, either by the King, the chief of the intelligence directorate, or through recommendations by members of the royal family or other senior intelligence personnel. A major criterion besides qualifications, is loyalty to the King and candidates have be influential within their tribe [5]. These appointments do not seem to have any criteria, other than closeness to the royal family or other intelligence personnel, therefore the objectivity of such appointments is questionable.

Whilst it is difficult to provide a definitive answer around bias in relation to the appointment and selection of intelligence personnel in Jordan, evidence points to appointments being biased [2, 3, 4], as they rely on Royal Decrees rather than a recruitment process [1]. This indicates that appointments are biased as appointees are often individuals loyal to the Hashemites. There is also no evidence of these senior appointments being a gift of the executive and/or any clear selection criteria [5].

This indicator has not been assigned a score due to insufficient information or evidence.

According to a former officer [1], the vetting process is very serious and complicated in the intelligence agency. It includes security checks, exams, interviews and recommendations from other units. It also takes into consideration his family background and societal ties.

There is no clear criteria for the selection of high ranking officials in the intelligence services (and in the police, military and KNG in general). Article 60 of Law. 23 of 1967 (1) for police affairs says the criteria for appointments is to be issued by the Minister, and the law generally does not require him to make it public.

Officials and activists say that intelligence posts are often given as gifts to allies of the Emir because they come with generous benefits and prestige, but there are instances when the posts are given to officers with sufficient experience (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6).

The current Interior Minister, who oversees the intelligence service, Khaled al-Jarah al-Sabah, is from the royal family, according to KUNA (7). His post has never been filled by someone outside the family, even though many of the Ministry’s experienced leaders are from outside the family (and the Defence Ministry’s hiring policy is similar), a Kuwaiti royal said (8). This shows that the royal family continues to keep the top seats in the Ministry to its members.

The candidates’ profiles are examined by the General Committee for Police Affairs, which is formed by the Minister, to evaluate, promote, demote and fire officers, according to article 8 of Law. 23 of 1967 for police affairs (1). It is, however unclear if this committee has the right to summon experts and demand information because the law does not explain its powers.

Only civilian appointments are later reviewed by the CSC but their auditors do not take advantage of their powers to question witnesses and demand information generally, a senior official from the agency said (2). When they do request information, the Ministry usually ignores them and they end up including this dismissal in their annual report, which they hand to the Parliament, where lawmakers also ignore it.

Therefore, even though the Minister’s pick goes through a process for approval, it is a weak one.

Selection criteria exist for appointments for senior ranks (1). However, the criteria are not published or announced to the public (2). For example, the National Defence Law does not identify the allocated sect for the post (2).

In the post-2005 period, senior appointments – including to the intelligence services – reflect the horse-trading and balance of power between the competing sectarian political factions (1). Designation by the Military Council is a case in point (1). Thus, The sects and connections to political parties are integral for an appointment, especially for first degree and deputy positions in the LAF (1). Yet, competencies are a key requirement for appointment of candidates (2).

There is no clear and transparent vetting process for the selection of the head of the intelligence service (1). The head of the intelligence branch is appointed based on the Military Council’s suggestion and approval of the minister of defence (2). However, according to an interviewee, criteria for appointments usually include the cohort, rank, and background depending on the position, etc. taking into consideration the sectarian allocation of the post (3).

Mali’s intelligence service, the Direction Generale de la Sécurité d’Etat (DGSE), is primarily involved in counter-terrorism operations and works with French intelligence services.³ ⁴ ⁵ ⁶ Basic facts such as its annual budget and the size of its personnel are not publicly known. It does not have a website. The selection criteria for senior positions within the intelligence services are not transparent, as there is scant information relating to how or on what basis individuals are chosen in the public domain (see 22B for one exception). It is not clear whether or not objective criteria are considered and whether appointees meet all the professional requirements for assuming such responsibilities. Numerous sources indicate that the secret services have long been corrupt, ineffective and plagued by nepotism.¹ ² ³

In 2013, shortly after his election, President Keita appointed Colonel Moussa Diawara as the Director General of the DGSE. Diawara previously served as IBK’s aide de camp when Keita was president of the National Assembly between 2002 and 2007.⁷ ⁸ Local media outlets regarded the nomination as IBK installing a close and trusted ally at the head of the state’s security service.⁷ ⁸ Although Diawara has considerable military experience, it is unclear how or why he was chosen and what selection process he went through. It appears that it was simply up to the president to decide who he wanted to appoint.

There is no information in the public domain relating to the nature of any vetting process in place for senior intelligence appointments. To appoint Diawara as DG in 2013, IBK first had to sack the incumbent, Sidy Alassane Touré, who had been designated DG by the ex-captain Amadou Haya Sanogo, who briefly served as transitional president following the military coup in 2012. The reason for Touré’s sacking was not officially disclosed. But local media reported numerous reasons. Touré had reportedly been using the DGSE to track politicians and journalists whom he disliked and subject them to unspecified “unpleasantness”.⁸ He also stood accused of circulating recordings of IBK’s telephone conversations prior to the 2013 presidential election. Although these allegations cannot be substantiated, the seriousness of such accusations hints at major failings in the vetting and monitoring of senior intelligence officials.
The case is far from isolated. In 2009, Colonel Kassoum Goita, who at the time was head of the Direction de la Sécurité Militaire (DSM), was implicated in an affair that involved the trafficking and laundering of forged dollar bills.³ This did not prevent him from rejoining the DSM in 2016, when he was appointed DG of the organisation.⁹ Goita had also previously been confined to his barracks for 60 days for misappropriating funds between 2000 and 2002.¹⁰ Such instances point to major failings in the vetting process. A member of the CDSPC confirmed to the assessor that the committee does not play a role in scrutinising or vetting appointments within the intelligence services.¹⁰

The lack of transparency and clear selection criteria for senior positions within the intelligence service suggests that these positions have so far been filled without following a set protocol. This means that no objective investigation of their suitability or of their prior conduct takes place. No list of vacant and filled positions is publicly available or communicated to the press.

The heads of the different intelligence services are appointed directly and personally by the King without any public justification. The current Head of the Managing Director for National Security (Direction générale de la Sûreté Nationale or DGSN), Abdellatif Hammouchi, was appointed under these circumstances on May 15 2015, while in parallel keeping his position as Managing Director of the General Directorate of Safety of the Territory (General Director of the Direction Générale de la Sûreté du Territoire, or DGST)(1)

The series of coup attempts in the 1970s caused the King to tighten his control over potential counter-powers such as the intelligence services.

The heads of the different intelligence services are appointed directly and personally by the King without any public justification. The current Head of the Managing Director for National Security (Direction générale de la Sûreté Nationale or DGSN), Abdellatif Hammouchi, was appointed under these circumstances on May 15 2015, while in parallel keeping his position as Managing Director of the General Directorate of Safety of the Territory (General Director of the Direction Générale de la Sûreté du Territoire, or DGST)(1)
The series of coup attempts in the 1970s caused the King to tighten his control over potential counter-powers such as the intelligence services (2)(3). The appointment of of senior positions are as much a gift to reward loyalty to the King as they are a way to maintain control by the latter.

The heads of the different intelligence services are appointed directly and personally by the King without any public justification. The current Head of the Managing Director for National Security (Direction générale de la Sûreté Nationale or DGSN), Abdellatif Hammouchi, was appointed under these circumstances on May 15 2015, while in parallel keeping his position as Managing Director of the General Directorate of Safety of the Territory (General Director of the Direction Générale de la Sûreté du Territoire, or DGST). (1)

The series of coup attempts in the 1970s caused the King to tighten his control over potential counter-powers such as the intelligence services (2)(3). The appointment of of senior positions are as much a gift to reward loyalty to the King as they are a way to maintain control by the latter.

The assessor found no evidence of objective selection criteria being employed in the recruitment of senior intelligence posts. It is also worth noting that the intelligence services information is necessarily covert and therefore not easily subject to oversight.

This indicator has not been assigned a score due to insufficient information or evidence. The assessor found no recruitment information for senior intelligence posts.

This indicator has not been assigned a score due to insufficient information or evidence. The assessor found no recruitment information for senior intelligence posts.

TThe selection criteria are objective but also take into account “federal character” which requires that appointment should reflect the six geo-political zones. The “federal character” principle, which has been enshrined in Nigeria’s Constitution since 1979, seeks to ensure that appointments to public service institutions fairly reflect the linguistic, ethnic, religious, and geographic diversity of the country. Application of the principle in the federal civil service and the military has amounted to a confusing balancing of the merit principle and the quota system, based essentially on states of origin. This has had adverse consequences for both institutions in terms of discipline, morale, and overall effectiveness and efficiency. The Constitution provides that …”the government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.” In practice, rather than ensure proper representation, merit is shunned to prioritise the drive for diversity. The Act states that “Part 1 that (1) “Each state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory shall be equitably represented in all national institutions and public enterprises and organisations (2). The best and the most competent persons shall be recruited from each state of the federation to fill positions reserved for the indigenes of the FCT.”

Although the National Assembly has a residual power to vet and confirm appointments, this does not constitute an effective check and balance on the exercise of the executive power to appoint (1). Recently, there has been a stalemate between the executive and the legislature over the refusal of the Senate to confirm the head of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Magu. Although the Senate has refused to confirm him, Mr. Magu continues to run the agency in an acting capacity (2). The president appointed the head of the EFCC despite Senate refusal to confirm him. Critics of the Buhari administration say he favours candidates from the north and often fails to assess their incompetence for positions nominated. In the security agencies, there is a preponderance of candidates from the north irrespective of merit. The appointment of Mr. Ibrahim Magu is illustrative of the fact that although the Senate has the power to confirm the nomination, the efficacy of that power is not as effective as an absolute veto which would disqualify a candidate for an appointment. Thus, the refusal to confirm Mr. Ibrahim Magu has created a situation where an unconfirmed candidate continues to hold office at the discretion of the president, despite a court ruling in favour of the Senate (2).

There is considerable security vetting of senior appointments by security agencies. However, defects within the vetting system also exist, which means that bias often supercedes objective selection criteria. The appointment of Mr. Magu is illustrative in this regard as the Department of State Security provided the Senate and the presidency with two conflicting reports on Mr. Magu, one report implicated him in several corruption-related allegations, while another report ostensibly absolved him of any wrongdoing concerning those allegations. As to suitability and prior conduct concerning the security agencies, appointments to these positions such as the position of Director-General of the National Security Agency is appointed solely by the president without Senate confirmation (1), (2), (3).

The most recent appointments of senior staff for the intelligence services were declared in Royal Decree 34/2013. It was published in the Muscat Daily: “Article one: Promotes Major General Said bin Ali bin Zahir al Hilali to the rank of Lieutenant General and appoints him as Head of the Internal Security Service with the rank of a minister. Article two: Promotes Brig Ghusn bin Hilal bin Khalifa al Alawi to the rank of Major General and appoints him as Assistant Head of the Internal Security Service for Operations” (1). Military promotions and appointments are announced through royal decrees (1). There is no information is available on selection criteria or roles in the service because the Internal Security Service website does not work (2). There any no references to selection criteria for senior positions in the Internal Security Services in the Omani media either. No criteria were found for the selection of senior positions; however, it seems the decisions were taken by the Sultan as the Internal Security Service falls under his Royal Office.

As previously established, the last appointment of senior staff for the Omani Intelligence services was declared through a royal decree (1). The centralised power of the sultan in Oman undermines an unbiased selection process (2). Academic Richard Common writes, “Tribal and familial interdependence remains deeply rooted and this extends into organisations, both public and private” (2). Selection bias is widespread, due to the sultan’s leadership.

There is no transparency around the selection process concerning the appointees of senior intelligence positions, as demonstrated in the above two sub-indicators. In the most recent appointment in 2013, no vetting process was mentioned. In Royal Decree 34/2013, both senior positions were given to members of the Omani Armed Forces (1). As discussed in sub-indicators 2 and 10, the lack of oversight in the security and defence sectors by the al-Shura Council, the State Audit Institute, the media, or civil society make it difficult to discern if there are vetting systems in place to investigate and scrutinise prior conduct of new appointees (2).

The criteria of the selections of the in senior positions of the intelligence are not clear. Nepotism plays a role in the selection process. All senior positions are selected based on their affiliation and being faithful to the head of the agency and the Fatah party (1).

All senior positions are selected based on their affiliation and being faithful to the head of the agency, the executive (Abbas) and the Fatah party. This means many of these positions are gifts to loyal employees (1).

As senior positions are given based on nepotism and not meritocratic values, there is no oversight or any investigation on appointing senior or non-senior positions to confirm suitability for the job (1). However, all other jobs must go through a security check called “Salamah Al Amniya” which seeks to ascertain that the person applying is not an Islamist or that they oppose the PA (2).

The selection criteria for senior positions is unclear in Qatar. Senior positions within defence are appointed by an Emiri Decree. The appointments of senior positions take into consideration two main criteria: loyalty to the Emir and member of a loyal tribe. Therefore, meritocracy is absent to some degree [1,2].

Senior positions in the intelligence services seem to be primarily a gift of the executive [1,2]. Senior positions within defence and intelligence take place through appointments by Emiri decrees. Whilst it is not clear whether these appointments are a gift per se, they are considered impartial. The internal security of Qatar is a sensitive agency and therefore, its leaders must be loyal to the Emir and also from a tribal background.

According to senior officers, a vetting process does exist. However, the criteria for proposing an officer, or offering a promotion, are primarily based on loyalty to the Emir, and membership of a tribe. The most sensitive positions go to those from the biggest tribes. Less important positions can be used to buy loyalty [1,2].

According to our sources, the selection criteria is not clear and there are no documents that spell out what criteria a senior intelligence officer should have before their appointment (1), (2). These appointments are often made by royal decree (3), (4), and there is no reference to the pre-appointment selection process, nor any method available to scrutinize how these decisions are made. In almost all cases, loyalty to the crown prince is the main criteria for getting a position (1), (2).

According to a Gulf affairs expert:

“Senior intelligence positions are not filled on the basis of objective selection criteria. The process is more applicable for more junior positions within the services, but sensitivities on conducting investigations of senior officers prevent the practice of extensive due diligence. There is an objective selection criterion on paper and it has been informed by other intelligence agencies (external), but it rarely informs decisions of senior appointments” (5).

According to our sources, almost all senior positions within the intelligence agency are a gift for loyalists and other tribes that have connections to the crown prince himself. In the past, appointments to senior positions in the defence establishment and the wider government were made based on seniority within the ruling family to balance power between the various (main) branches of the family. This practice has continued to some extent under King Salman and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for example through appointing a range of young princes, mostly grandsons or great-grandsons of the founding king of Saudi Arabia, to government senior positions (1). Nevertheless, they have also increasingly centralized power in all areas, including in the defence sector, where Mohammed bin Salman serves as Minister of Defence (2). A recent overhaul of the security services in the country saw the creation of the Presidency for State Security, a new security agency that incorporates domestic intelligence services and that is strongly tied to the office of the king, further centralizing power in the intelligence services (3).

Further, patterns of government appointments indicate that King Salman, in coordination with the Crown Prince, is appointing close and loyal allies within the family to senior positions (4), (5). This includes appointments in the country’s intelligence services. Notably, in April 2017, the King named Ahmed al-Asiri, a major general and an adviser to the Saudi MoD, as deputy head of the General Intelligence Presidency, Saudi Arabia’s primary intelligence agency (6). While the basis for his selection criteria is impossible to ascertain, al-Asiri is reportedly a close ally of the King and Crown Prince (5).

As mentioned above, most of the appointments are based on having a close relation to the crown prince and loyalty. Therefore, there is no vetting process beforehand. The government does not disclose any information about the pre-appointment processes for intelligence positions nor any other government position.

According to our sources, there are no clear criteria for the appointment of senior positions within the intelligence services. The appointment of senior positions is based on connections with the executive (1,2). Additionally, in the absence of a sound legal framework, any official communication about intelligence services, and media reports which discussed the filling of senior positions within intelligence units, we conclude that criteria for selection of senior positions are unclear (3).

According to our sources, the appointment of a senior position is based on two main factors: professional criteria and loyalty to the executives. The sources confirm that the intelligence positions are not gifts but promotions. In some cases it can be a gift but not for senior positions as they could attract the attention of the public and opposition in Parliament(1,2).

According to our sources, there is a committee usually formed by the President and the Prime Minister to nominate a few people for appointment at the head of the agency, and there is a committee within the intelligence services that propose senior positions, however, it is unclear what the main criteria and the procedures of selection are, which make the quality of selections low and ambiguous (1,2). Therefore, there is a vetting process but it is ambiguous and of low quality.

Information about the intelligence services in the UAE is scarce. However, senior and ministerial positions within these services are appointed through Emiri Decrees. In February 2016, according to a presidential decree, the UAE had appointed the son of Abu Dhabi’s powerful Crown Prince Major General Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as the head of the country’s state security department. It is important to note here, that there is no evidence to support that there is a clear process in the selection of these positions, particularly as these positions are filled through Emiri Decrees. According to sources, more than ten foreign officers head intelligence and state security operations, including the special forces of the Emiri guards. Thus, although the appointments take into consideration merit and experience, loyalty is the most important factor (1), (2).

Senior positions in the intelligence services are primarily appointed by the executive. Senior positions within the defence and intelligence services take place through appointments through Emiri Decrees. Although it is not clear whether these appointments are given as a gift per se, the appointments are considered subjective. According to sources, the Emirs prefer to appoint foreigners from USA, UK, and Australia as heads of defence institutions, state security, and royal guards operations, training and development. The Emir looks for loyalists who could serve him and not someone from the royal family or the UAE who could gain strength, and potentially harm MBZ’s authority (1), (2).

According to sources, who have access to the armed forces and intelligence services, there is a process of vetting that primarily looks at two factors in the candidate: merits and skills. But the candidate must also be loyal to MBZ. For example, the head of the UAE Presidential Guards is former Australian Major General Mike Hindmarch, and the head of the intelligence sections within the UAE Presidential Guard is Desi Watson, a Briton. Both of them have high merits and lots of experience, but their loyalty is dependent on a huge financial package (500,000USD annually), according to our source (1), (2).

Country Sort by Country 22a. Objective selection criteria Sort By Subindicator 22b. Selection bias Sort By Subindicator 22c. Vetting process Sort By Subindicator
Algeria 0 / 100 0 / 100 0 / 100
Angola 0 / 100 0 / 100 0 / 100
Burkina Faso 0 / 100 0 / 100 0 / 100
Cameroon 0 / 100 0 / 100 0 / 100
Cote d'Ivoire 0 / 100 0 / 100 0 / 100
Egypt 25 / 100 0 / 100 0 / 100
Ghana 0 / 100 0 / 100 0 / 100
Jordan 0 / 100 50 / 100 NEI
Kuwait 0 / 100 0 / 100 0 / 100
Lebanon 50 / 100 50 / 100 50 / 100
Mali 0 / 100 0 / 100 0 / 100
Morocco 0 / 100 0 / 100 0 / 100
Niger 0 / 100 NEI NEI
Nigeria 25 / 100 0 / 100 50 / 100
Oman 0 / 100 0 / 100 0 / 100
Palestine 0 / 100 0 / 100 0 / 100
Qatar 0 / 100 0 / 100 0 / 100
Saudi Arabia 0 / 100 0 / 100 0 / 100
Tunisia 0 / 100 0 / 100 50 / 100
United Arab Emirates 0 / 100 0 / 100 50 / 100

With thanks for support from the UK Department for International Development and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs who have contributed to the Government Defence Integrity Index.

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