Both ruling parties of the Kurdistan Region, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, come closer after several years of low-scale political disputes between each other.
On Sunday, leaders of both parties met in Pirmam Salahaddin at Masoud Barzani’s office, the KDP leader. The PUK delegation comprised of Kosrat Rasul Ali, the deputy general secretary; Hero Ibrahim Ahmed, Omar Fatah, Mala Bakhtiyar, Hakim Qadir Hamajan, members of the politburo, as well as Pavel Talabani, the son of PUK’s founding secretary general Jalal Talabani. On the KDP side, there were Nechirvan Barzani, deputy president; Fazil Mirani, secretary of KDP politburo; Masrour Barzani, Roj Nuri Shawes, Azad Barwari and Mahmud Mohammed, members of the politburo.
The meeting focused on the political dispute in the Kurdistan Region, the financial crisis and government management, as well as the strategic relationship between both parties. “In the meeting both parties agreed on several basic principles to fulfill the demands of the people of Kurdistan and defending the Iraqi Kurdistan experience. Despite some disagreements in opinions, we emphasize on the alliance and cooperation between us and the other parties,” read the press release of the meeting. Several meetings will be held these two weeks between their politburos to outline the details of normalizing the political environment of the Kurdistan Region.
The KDP and PUK division began after the 2009 elections when the former PUK deputy secretary Nawshirwan Mustafa swept the majority of votes from the PUK and lost its base to the newly established party. After that period, the PUK and Gorran, although not always enjoying harmonious relations, came together to nullify the Parliament’s passed Constitution Draft and called on amending the Presidential Act of 2005 by changing the election method of the president from the public to the parliament. KDP and PUK leaders signed a “strategic agreement” in 2007 to solidify the unification of governmental administrations in Erbil and Suleymania and create a unified Kurdish discourse for the Iraqi and regional politics. As a result of Talabani’s illness in late 2012, the divisions inside PUK became more exposed which resulted in the loss of a unified position vis-à-vis the KDP and the politics of Kurdistan and Iraq. Barham Ahmed Salih, Talabani’s second deputy, resigned in 2013 but later joined his party again.
Today, Barham Ahmed Salih did not participate in the meeting although he was seen yesterday in Suleymania.
Recently leaders of both parties have called for formulating a new strategic agreement. In January and February 2016 the politburos held several meetings and agreed on a new strategic agreement, which the PUK requested the inclusion of handing over the government premiership to PUK in return for their support to the presidency seat for the KDP.
Hemen Hawrami, member of KDP leadership and close personnel to Masoud Barzani, said in an interview with Rudaw, that KDP insists of reversing the political events to before June 23 when PUK, Gorran and the political parties pushed for amending the Presidential Act without the KDP. After that meeting, “the Parliament was unable to come together due to political mistrust and its functions came to a halt,” said Hawrami, adding that the Parliament can only be restored if there is a new political agreement between those who formed the Parliament and the Government.”