Using forces on PUK Co-president’s house is ‘red line’: Washington

03-08-2021 03:12
Lahur Sheikh Jangi

PEREGRAF- Surkew Mohammed

The United States has sent the Kurdistan Patriotic Union (PUK) a message urging them not to use armed forces for their intra-party issues, and has said raiding Lahur Sheikh Jangi’s house is a "red line," two senior PUK sources told PEREGRAF.

The US message comes at a time when Mam Jalal’s family and their supporters in the PUK were being prepared to raid Sheikh Jangi’s house in Sarchinar in Sulaimaniyah as tension continues to escalate between the co-presidents of the party.

"The force being deployed there was to arrest some people that were issued an arrest order from the court and are being kept at his house," one of the sources said.

"Counter-terrorism forces, under Wahab Halabjayi’s command, refused to participate in raiding Lahur Sheikh Jangi’s house," they added, noting that the Washington message had also been effective and as a result the force was not deployed there.

After hearing about the US mediation, Sheikh Jangi broke silence on Monday evening and issued a statement after he had filed a legal complaint earlier the day on his co-chair and cousin, Bafel Talabani.

"In his complaint, Lahur Sheikh Jangi has mentioned slander and humiliation, and demands the July 8 allegations against him to be proven in court," said the source.

Using forces against Sheikh Jangi came after he rejected their demands and tension once again erupted between them in a meeting with Qubad Talabani, Bafel’s brother.

"Qubad Talabani visited Lahur Sheikh Jangi the day before yesterday and asked him to submit his resignation to the [PUK] leadership and leave the Kurdistan [Region], and also submit his resignation from the Kurdistan Coalition to the Electoral Commission, but Lahur Sheikh Jangi has rejected these demands," a senior source told PEREGRAF.

There were heated discussions in that meeting with Talabani, "Qubad Talabani has threatened to publish some evidence on serious allegations against Lahur Sheikh Jangi and his brothers. Sheikh Jangi in response has told him, ‘do whatever you can. I also have some documents that you will have to leave the country if I publish them."

Sheikh Jangi has previously officially announced that he will step down from the presidency of the Kurdistan Coalition - an alliance formed between PUK and Gorran (Change) for the elections, but he has now changed his mind and wants to create obstacles for Qubad Talabani, who is set to head the alliance in his place.

After the July 8 incidents, PUK media outlets have made some serious allegations against Sheikh Jangi and his people, arrest orders have also been issued for some of his close associates on various charges, including for Dr. Miran Mohammed, a member of the PUK politburo, as well as two of Sheikh Jangi’s brothers.

The men have not yet been arrested, and PEREGRAF has found that they are being protected at Sheikh Jangi’s house in Sarchinar, but they are "ready to go to court." 

"They have shown readiness to go to court, but not in this way now that there is interference from Mam Jalal's house and there is no court independence under their pressure, even Lahur’s brother Polad is ready to go to court to respond to all the allegations and reveal the truth. He has said, ‘I will go to court and say everything’," a source close to Sheikh Jangi told PEREGRAF.

An official PUK outlet on Monday  published that "Lahur Sheikh Jangi is accused of keeping those involved in various corruption cases that have been officially requested to go to court," quoting official sources.

"Lahur Sheikh Jangi is accused of abusing his powers in PUK’s and the public’s disadvantage, as well as families of the martyrs," the official source had said.

PUK outlets on Monday  published an interview of two brothers, who were businessmen and were acquainted with Shiekh Jangi’s brothers, in which they say they were "abducted and their wealth and belongings were seized under threat and intimidation."

Sheikh Jangi in his Monday statement reveals some things after "a lot of patience," saying "I have been told to leave Kurdistan [Region], if not it seems that they have decided to raid my house and forcibly evict me from Kurdistan. Therefore I have decided to face this plotting and not leave my nation until my last breath," he said.

Sheikh Jangi in his statement threatened, "I could - not just by accusations - but by uncovering many heinous acts with evidence done by those who accuse me, however, my morality and upbringing have never allowed me to do such a thing."

The PUK co-president also said that he will hand over his powers to Bafel Talabani on the condition an investigation committee is formed to investigate the allegations against him.

"Unfortunately, due to the blockade, my party has not been able to form a committee, and after my disappointment at my party's politburo, I decided to resort to Sulaymaniyah court and demand that all the charges against me be resolved through the courts."

Now Mam Jalal's family wants to legitimately and in line with the PUK’s rules, completely remove Lahore Sheikh Jangi from their party, demanding him to leave the Kurdistan Region so that Sheikh Jangi is considered "absent."

According to Article 36 of the PUK rules of procedure, "In the absence of any co-president, the other co-president will take over their powers."

If Sheikh Jangi insists on staying in the Region, Jalal Talabani’s family has several other ways to achieve their goal of evicting Lahore Sheikh Jangi once and for all, according to PEREGRAF sources, none of them is an easy way and must be decided with the PUK Leadership Council, which consists of 124 members.

According to the PUK internal rules of procedure, if a co-president of the PUK resigns the majority of 63 votes is needed for the resignation to be approved. However, if they are dismissed for "not committing to their obligations" then they will need two-thirds of the votes, which will make up 83 members.

Although Sheikh Jangi won the majority of votes during the PUK congress, and the majority in the leadership supported him who was about 80 in numbers - but he has now lost support of that majority.

A source close to Lahur Sheikh Jangi says  "there are still 50 members of the leadership who are with Sheikh Jangi, and Mam Jalal's family has not secured two-thirds of the members, that is why they are not depending on the leadership yet to dismiss him."

Apart from efforts to evict Sheikh Jangi once and for all, Bafel Talabani wants to change the co-presidency system to only one take charge himself. He also wants to dissolve the leadership council and the politburo and make a new one of up to 40 people.

To make these changes, the internal rules of procedures of the party must be amended, which needs to be called for by 50 members of the leadership council, and any changes in the procedure require votes of four-fifths of the presidency, a total of 100 votes out of 124 members, but are not allowed to make fundamental changes to the procedure.