Patriotic Union of Kurdistan: Broken but not yet defeated

By Mufid Abdulla: 

Barham Salih, potential new leader

Barham Salih, potential new leader

How can this party get back in the game following the 21st September election debacle, with the loss of so many of its parliamentary MPs? That is the question posed by so many followers of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) I have spoken to.

The PUK is living through an unprecedentedly desperate situation. For the first time this once powerful party is physically and emotionally vulnerable. So many members are speaking their minds on social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, saying things like that they want their politburo to be put on trial and deprived of all posts. One PUK member even said that “losing this election is like losing my kids”! For many followers, the PUK’s three-decade struggle to reconcile left wing politics with the modern economy is now over. For those who were still in denial, Barham Saleh,  the party’s deputy leader, told an PUK audience in Erbil: “We need slogans, practically proven”.

The appalling consequences for the PUK of this election are the price of the behaviour and the ideas of corrupted leaders, whose only interest is in their privileges, together with the organisation’s inconsistent progress over the past few years.

The organisation of the party has become divorced from the society to which it belongs. The PUK needs a cultural revolution, like many parties around the world have had to undergo. It needs an historical shift towards the urban intelligentsia, instead of a concentration on members from rural areas. Everyone agrees that there are potential new young leaders inside the PUK, who are working hard to make sense of the situation, but they are being side-lined by the current leadership

The PUK needs to abandon the ‘filthy rich’ – those who became wealthy through their contacts with the party. Now is the time for the PUK to fast forward and embrace intellectuals like Barham Saleh as its new leaders. The man is well-educated and liberal-minded and well known internationally. He doesn’t have a militia or appoint his brother or his kids to the PUK leadership!

The PUK needs to consolidate its forces before it is too late.  It probably needs to concentrate – outside of government – on uniting, rebuilding and preparing for the next election. At the moment the  PUK’s targets are unambitious and marred by the totalitarian beliefs of Bonapartist leaders who have offered nothing of quality to this nation in the south of Kurdistan. This remarkable time is one for the PUK to take a lesson from the civil war. The PUK’s problem in the past – and now – is its leaders; although at least the party’s founder, Jalal Talabani, tried to fix his mistakes before he became seriously ill, by reaching out to the opposition Gorran party.

This issue of leadership should be top of the party’s agenda. The only way forward is to sack and expel all those corrupted  leaders who have been involved in building a culture of tribalism and gangsterism inside the party. Possibly charges should be brought against some of these leaders. I don’t think even their bodyguards would shed any tears for them if they saw them in the dock.

Yesterday’s resignations of two PUK leaders does not contribute to the main challenge facing this party. The organisation cannot advance with its crumbling infrastructure. The PUK needs to immediately call a conference and elect a new leadership to shape its future. Otherwise it will suffer from a pitiful shortfall of new ideas, aborting any prospect of progress, and then this historic party will be defeated forever.

Copyright © 2013

One Response to Patriotic Union of Kurdistan: Broken but not yet defeated
  1. kurd
    October 1, 2013 | 16:59

    I really believe both PUK and Gorran were defeated, because the political balance has not changed.
    By removing PUK from political scene, the KDP is still a big problem and we do not want Gorran be alternative of PUK, instead it should be alternative of KDP,Gorran can not still understand this truth…
    But Gorran seems be opposition of PUK and proved this during past years.So every one knows that
    Gorran is not opposition of KDP….By this election both PUK and Gorran will damage the kurdish society and returned to beginning point, unfortunately for that..
    About PUK: there is no one in it that can take PUK outside of hard crisis…
    So Mr.Talabani and Mr.Nawshirwan could not change PUK in past decades… what can these leaders do Mr.Mufid!?
    While this crisis that faces PUK is by its own peoples not enemies…
    And about Barham Salih: you are mistaken Mr. Mufid. It is obvious that he is an opportunist man…from knowing him. I recommend you read this article that has been recently published in Kurdistan Post, please look at:

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