Cracks appear in the PUK-KDP strategic relationship‏

By Mufid Abdulla:

For years, members of the Kurdistan Region’s ruling parties got along so well that you’d never have guessed the two parties fought a bloody civil war in the 1990s. Today, however, former friends are in danger of again becoming enemies.

The architects of the ‘strategic relationship’  – Iraqi president Talabani of the PUK and Kurdistan Regional president Barzani of the KDP – have recently disagreed on several issues, and especially on the dispute between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Maliki government. Barzani has accused Iraqi prime minister Maliki of being a dictator while Talabani sees Maliki as a partner. It would probably now be wise for Barzani and Talabani to assume their relationship is on a downward trajectory.

Barzani’s attack on Maliki was criticised by the PUK leadership and, in turn, Talabani’s recent interview by Al Jazeera was criticised by Barzani’s advisor Faisal Dabag. He told Hawler newspaper that he had told Talabani: “The creation of a Kurdish state may be a dream but this doesn’t make us hapless”. That was his response to Talabani’s claim that independence for Kurdistan is a poetic dream. The PUK leadership then basically told Dabag to shut up.

The nasty war has spread to members of parliament in Baghdad who have been exchanging cheap insults on Facebook and in the Iraqi press. Barzani’s people and Talabani’s friends have become  more openly critical of each other’s failings. It got bad enough for the President of Kurdistan to feel compelled to issue a statement on Facebook on 26th April, urging the parties’ members to desist. On the same day he met Talabani in Hawler to discuss several issues: these recent tensions must have been on their agenda.

The splits have emerged as next year’s general elections get closer. It was not so difficult to contain tensions when the going was relatively smooth for both parties. However, the recent dispute – compounded by untold errors and blunders on other issues – has weakened public trust and confidence in the parties’ competency – crucial components of their reputations.

A recent study published by independent newspapers in Kurdistan concluded that both parties have lost half a million votes over the last three years and that these votes will go to the opposition parties.

We should not exaggerate. The relationship between the two leaders is still a considerable distance from being poisonous. However, last month Talabani’s main PUK headquarters was transferred to the KDP stronghold of Erbil. The new HQ is a giant building called the ‘White Palace’ and it has cost the PUK tens of millions of dollars. Apparently Talabani hopes to revitalise the PUK in Erbil and regain the ground lost there over the last several years.

The strategic relationship between the two parties hasn’t met the hopes of the people but rather it has enabled the parties’ members and cronies to share between themselves the wealth and resources of the south of Kurdistan.

However, things have changed over the past few weeks. The cronies are worried that their snouts will be removed from the public trough after the next election and the two parties are becoming more conscious of each other’s remarks and criticisms.

Their relationship has not served the nation well and now their former cosiness has been replaced with disunity and distrust.

Copyright © 2012

3 Responses to Cracks appear in the PUK-KDP strategic relationship‏
  1. Baqi Barzani
    April 29, 2012 | 11:13

    Talabanis constant nonsense pertaining to Kurdish independence right will no longer be brooked. Should he continue his unchanged approach, we will exert all pressure, all viable resources at our disposal and all our political connections to discredit, delegitimize, deprecate, denounce and disgrace him to the fullest extent possible both nationally and internationally.

    He is about to disappear from the political scene regardless, however, it would be in his best interest to do so without further inflicting damages to Kurdish cause and struggle.

    His untiring efforts to further Iran’s political interests and objectives are some other memorable and truly praiseworthy legacies he will leave behind in Kurdish chronological book.
    His son, Qubad Talabani, the so-called Kurdish nation rep to the US, in lieu of advising his father to cease rebuffing and champion Kurdish independence, is busy throwing in personal parties in Washington every night.
    These are our leaders and worse, why do some people despite being sentient, continue to blindly and obstinately yet listen and follow him? Respect and love does not imply he can take any action on his own and articulate whatever he wishes. As the head of state, he equally carries some responsibilities that he is obligated to perform. What steps has this president taken take so far to unify Kurdistan apart from antagonizing with KDP and consistently taking Iran’s side?
    When will our nation wake up for god sake?

    Kurdish Youth Movement

  2. Azad Ezzat
    May 4, 2012 | 00:52

    Not Barzani and Not Talabani. Both sides are corrupt and useless. Who are we kidding here?

  3. Hassan Mustafa
    May 5, 2012 | 23:54

    So is Gorran and Nushirvan.

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