PUK and KDP left Kurdistan united, but that didn’t last even one step and they will leave Baghdad divided

10-01-2022 11:54


Despite calls for joint action between the two largest Kurdish parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) took different paths on Sunday (January 9), each siding with a different Shia faction during the first session of the new parliament.

According to an agreement, which was first reported on Saturday by Peregraf, the KDP decided to join with the Sadristsand the main Sunni factions to divide the parliamentary leadership positions amongst themselves: with the speakership going to the Sunnis, the first deputy speaker to the Sadrists, and the second deputy speaker to the KDP.

This was realized during the vote at the first session, with Mohammed al-Halbousi winning a new term as speaker, the Sadrists’ Hakim al-Zamili elected as the first deputy, and the KDP’s Shakhawan Abdullah of Kirkuk as the second deputy.

In contrast, the PUK, which claims that it has "not entered into any agreement and does not want to become part of the conflicts within the Shia bloc," sided with the Shia Coordination Framework, a group of parties that have largely objected to the results of the October election.

Neither the PUK nor the Framework participated in the vote to elect the parliamentary leadership.

"We didn't want to be supporters of any Shia bloc, so we didn't participate in the election of the speaker of parliament and the deputy speakers," said Dylan Ghafur, a PUK MP.

The actions of both the KDP and PUK during the vote contrasted with earlier attempts to show unity between the two parties, with the PUK’s Politburo Emad Ahmed and the KDP’s Hoshyar Zebari, both members of their parties’ respective politburos, leading a joint delegation to the Iraqi capital for the session. The parties also held several meetings before the session declaring that they shared the same attitude towards affairs in Baghdad.

A senior PUK source told Peregraf that their party learned on Saturday night that the KDP had united with the Sadrists and the Sunnis ahead of the vote.

"The PUK asked the KDP not to reach an agreement with any Shia party, but the KDP has signed an agreement," the source said.

"The PUK has not yet reached any agreement. It does not want to be part of the conflicts within the Shia bloc and to reach an agreement with any party," they added.

In recent days, the Sadrists and the Sunni factions were in Erbil for meetings with KDP leader Masoud Barzani, while PUK Co-President Bafel Talabani was in Baghdad on the night of January 8 for meetings.

The actions of both the KDP and the PUK appear to show little unity in real terms and that each has different opinions about the distribution of government positions and agreements with the Sunni and Shia parties.

The next step is for the parliament to elect the President of Iraq, which historically has been held by the PUK. In 2018, the KDP unsuccessfully ran its candidate for the post, who was defeated by the current president, Barham Salih of the PUK.