A leading figure in Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan has said that Iraqi Kurds must tread cautiously with Turkey as it could trade them for Baghdad.
Adil Murad, a PUK co-founder currently heading the party’s Central Council, told PUK-owned Sulaymaniyah News Network that Kurds could lose what they already have if they relied on regional powers, as they could be repeating the 1970s scenario that led to the collapse of the then Kurdish revolution.
He also complained about “unfair” representation in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and said his party was preparing for its June conference.
He said that the Kurds should be cautious not to fall in the trap set by a regional country, namely Turkey.
“For what Turkey is doing right now is very similar to the policies of the Iranian Shah, who likewise did not let us reach an agreement with Baghdad and promised us a government; but when he reached an agreement with Baghdad, he turned his back on the revolution.”
For now, he said: “We have to be careful not to be misled by Turkey, which might eventually come to terms with Baghdad and make us lose what we already have.”
“We have to demand our rights within the constitution; and [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] Al-Maliki and Talabani were in agreement to resolve the disputes through dialogue,” he said.
The Iraqi Government and the KRG have been at loggerheads for several years over oil, land and power, but in recent months tensions between the two heightened over a disputed area that includes oil rich, multiethnic Kirkuk.
“No” plans for Talabani’s replacement
Regarding the condition of PUK leader and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who is being treated in Germany following a stroke, Murad said that he was responding well to treatment, “but doctors say he needs at least two months of rest”.
He said that when Talabani was in Berlin for treatment over the summer, doctors urged him to rest longer, but out of concern for Iraq, especially as tension between Erbil and Baghdad was building up over the Tigris Operations Command, he returned to Iraq.
He also said that his party had not made any plans for post-Talabani.
“We, as PUK, have not thought about this in any way. Moreover, Massoud Barzani in Kurdistan and Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad have stressed that Talabani’s replacement has not been discussed. We have to work in a way assuming that he is returning to us tomorrow.”
Murad said that the PUK conference “will go ahead as scheduled for June 2013; preparations have been made to this effect”.
Regarding PUK’s representation in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Murad said that his party had been “unfairly” treated in the KRG; “for example, we have only eight people working in the KRG’s Department of Foreign Relations”.
He said that Prime Minster Nechirvan Barzani, who is also deputy leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, had personally promised to address that, “but so far, nothing has been done”.
Nechirvan Barzani is considered the architect of the Turkish-KRG relationship, while the PUK is traditionally aligned with the Islamic Revolution-led Iran.
In recent months, PUK officials have publicly called for a full review of a political pact that culminated in a power-sharing agreement with the KDP. In the absence of Talabani, the leader who put his full weight behind the deal, such dissonant voices are expected to grow.