ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The two ruling parties of the Kurdistan Region are set to sign a four-year agreement outlining major policy positions in a bid to stabilize Kurdistan and strengthen its position in the region.
The main points of the new understanding between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), according to information obtained by Rudaw, have been divided into governance, decision-making, political stances in the Kurdistan Region, relations with Baghdad, Kirkuk and the disputed territories, and relations with neighboring countries, especially Iran and Turkey.
A member of the PUK’s leadership council said they want to have a unified stance on these issues with the KDP.
"We don't have to have two policies, a KDP policy towards Iran and a PUK policy towards Iran. We don't want to have two policies of a PUK policy towards Turkey and a KDP policy towards Turkey," Fareed Assasard told Rudaw.
They also want to have a joint position on issues like Kurds in Syria and Turkey, and Syria itself, he added.
"If we can, from this understanding, formulate general viewpoints for matters, then there will be the opportunity for us to play a big role in the region," Assasard reasoned.
Representatives from each party have been selected to sit on a joint committee and they will start talks this week to hammer out the details.
This new accord could replace the "Strategic Agreement" that has been in place since 2005. But the new version would expire in four years, with the next parliamentary elections.
Nouri Hama Ali, a member of KDP’s leadership council, told Rudaw that a PUK-KDP agreement is important for stability.
It’s important "first for stability and tranquility all over Kurdistan, and second, to be united against our enemies and haters when they have ambitions in the Kurdistan Region," he said.
Harmony between the two ruling powers would also bring “comfort” to the people by decreasing political uncertainty, he added.
KDP and PUK signed a historic “Strategic Agreement” in 2005 that saw end of hostilities between them and reunified the Kurdistan Region. It was followed by a period of growth and stability as the two parties jointly ruled the Region.
However, relations have deteriorated, starting in 2013 when PUK lost its majority in Sulaimani to Gorran. KDP inched closer to Gorran, angering PUK.
Relations crumbled further on October 16, 2017 after elements within the PUK retreated from Kirkuk. They worsened again in October 2018 as the two parties both sought after the post of president of Iraq. The PUK’s Barham Salih took it.
Contentious issues between them include the governorship of Kirkuk governor, and KDP dominance in the fields of oil and foreign relations.
While the KDP wants to take each issue individually, including formation of the next Kurdistan Regional Government, the PUK argues there can’t be a stable government if they are fighting.
With reporting from Hawkar Yasseen