Supporters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) wave banners of their parties during the 2013 legislative election. Photo: Rudaw
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – Farid Asasar, a leading member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), says neither his party nor the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) will unilaterally enter into alliance with Iraqi parties to form a new government in Baghdad.
“The agreement is mostly intended to ensure that neither the KDP nor the PUK enters into alliance with Iraqi parties without each other, and to form a joint agenda to deal with the alliance forming the next Iraqi government,” Asasar told Rudaw.
The PUK and KDP delegations met in Erbil last Wednesday. Asasar was one of the delegates in the meeting.
“The KDP and PUK need to form an agenda before commencing formal talks with Iraqi parties. The agenda has been prepared and will be sent to other parties of the Kurdistan Region in order for them to join the agenda,” he said.
Relations between the KDP and PUK turned sour after the events of October 16, 2017. The KDP has accused some PUK officials of secret coordination with the Iraqi Army and Hashd al-Shaabi forces to attack Kirkuk.
However, Iraq’s parliamentary election has created a new situation that has made the formation of the next Iraqi government very difficult.
This has pushed the KDP and PUK, as regional winners of the election, to sit together and discuss the common ground that still exists between them.
“We have to finally be closer to one party, but shouldn’t discuss our agenda first. We have to discuss the details of the agenda with the person tasked with the formation of the government,” Asasar added.
Iraqi parties have been attempting to create alliances, but none has lasted more than a week. Asasar attributes the reason to “the Shiites house being in disorder.”
“These parties want to gain the most in forming the government, but they should first reach an agreement among themselves and then try to reach an agreement with other parties,” he said.
The disorderly state of the Shiite parties is bad for them, he said, arguing that if they remain divided as they are now, “the situation will remain in stalemate. Then there will be no parties in Baghdad which we can talk to. In these situations, the Kurds will remain without forming an alliance with other parties. If we form an alliance with [Muqtada al-Sadr], Hadi Amri will surely oppose us, and Sadr will oppose us if we do otherwise. That is why unanimity among them will save us a number of problems.”
There are claims the alliance between Amri and Nouri al-Maliki is eager to win the hearts of the Kurds by promising to return to the pre-2014 situation – before Maliki’s government cut the Kurdistan Region’s budget. Asasar said this is “very good for Kurds.”
But by forming an alliance with them, “we will be viewed as being in Iran’s sphere. Then we will have many problems with the US,” Asasar explained.
He said much depends on the outcome of the manual recount of ballots cast in the disputed May 12 election and what the Kurdish opposition parties choose to do next.
“We and the KDP should wait for Gorran, CDJ, Komal and KIU to go to Baghdad. We will wait for these four parties until the time the final election results are approved. We will then be talking to them, but will go to Baghdad with the KDP if they don’t come with us,” he said.
“The thing we have called an alliance with the KDP is only for a specific phase. It might dissolve with the formation of the new Iraqi cabinet. Then we will need another form of relations. We will either form a joint bloc or be there as different factions,” he said.
Some Gorran officials recently slammed CDJ leader Barham Salih, accusing him of trying to secure position for himself – even the presidency of the republic. The KDP recently said the PUK is not entitled to the position.
But Asasar believes the PUK will hold onto the presidency.
“The KDP will finally consent to the PUK assuming the position. The assumption of this position by the PUK will determine the kind of relations between the KDP and PUK. If the PUK assumes this position and the KDP doesn’t cause problems for this to be the case, we might then determine a new foundation for relations between the KDP and PUK. However, a roadmap for relations with the KDP will not be designed if this is not going to be the case,” he warned.
“We will nominate one of our officials to assume the position of the president of the republic. We will not give this position to Dr Barham,” he said. “Under these conditions, we cannot nominate someone outside the PUK for the position of the president of the republic.”