Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (June 2010)|
|Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
الاتحاد الوطني کوردستان
Yekêtiy Nîştimaniy Kurdistan
یەکێتیی نیشتمانیی کوردستان
|Founded||June 1, 1975|
|Headquarters||Silemani, Iraqi Kurdistan|
|International affiliation||Socialist International,
|Seats in the Council of Representatives of Iraq:|
|Seats in the Kurdistan Parliament:|
|Politics of Iraq
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) (Kurdish: یەکێتیی نیشتمانیی کوردستان / Yeketî Niştîmanî Kurdistan, Arabic: الاتحاد الوطني کوردستان Al-Ittihad Al-Watani Kurdistan) is a Kurdish political party in Iraqi Kurdistan. The PUK was founded on June 1, 1975, by coordination between Jalal Talabani, Kosrat Rasul Ali and Nawshirwan Mustafa. Talabani, a former student leader, lawyer, journalist and resistance leader, has been the Secretary General of the PUK since its founding in 1975. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan claims to work for self-determination, human rights, democracy and peace for the Kurdish people of Kurdistan and Iraq. Jalal Talabani is the current president of Iraq. The current Deputy Secretary General is Kosrat Rasul Ali.
Discontent within the KDP
The PUK traces its political heritage to Sulaymaniyah native Ibrahim Ahmad. After the collapse of the Soviet-backed Kurdish Mahabad Republic in Iran in early 1947, Ibrahim Ahmad, previously the Sulaymaniyah representative of the Iranian KDP(KDP-I), joined the newly formed Iraqi KDP. Ahmad was a highly influential leftist intellectual, who by 1951 had succeeded in rallying most of the Iraqi Kurdish leftist-nationalists to the new Iraqi KDP, which in turn, took the opportunity to convene a second Party Congress and duly elect Ahmad as secretary-general (effectively acting Chairman).
However, from the very beginning in Iran, Ibrahim Ahmad's leftist politics, "intellectualism", and support for Qazi Muhammad put him at odds with the faction of the KDP loyal to Mulla Mustafa Barzani and his traditionalist-conservative tribal support base. It was "well-known in nationalist circles that the relations between the two men Mustafa and Qazi were not easy". Ibrahim Ahmad was soon joined by up-and-coming intellectual and socialist Jalal Talabani. Mustafa and Ahmad were known to dislike each other. But while each wanted to reduce the others' influence in the KDP, each also knew that the other was indispensable in securing the loyalty of their respective support-bases.
When the first Ba'ath Party government was deposed in a coup led by Abdul Salam Arif, Mustafa developed a close relationship with Arif. Mulla Mustafa signed an agreement with Arif in his personal capacity, rather than as president of the KDP. This infuriated Ahmad and Jalal Talabani as the agreement omitted any mention of self-administration, let alone autonomy - the whole point for which the Kurds had been fighting a long-term guerrilla war. Arif threatened force against any Kurdish opponent of Mustafa, while Mustafa declared that any resistance to Baghdad would constitute a declaration of war against himself and the Barzanis.
Ibrahim Ahmad and Jalal Talabani decried this complicity, and as they saw it, submission, to Baghdad. Mulla Mustafa rallied the conservatives and tribal leaders to his side. Furious debates and campaigning followed, but Ahmad's and Talabani's arguments could not dislodge Mulla Mustafa's position as the popular figurehead of the Kurdish people. Mulla Mustafa would accept not dissent, and, fearing for their lives, Ahmad and his followers slipped away at night from a heated discussion with Mulla Mustafa, and retreated back to their stronghold in Mawat.
At the 6th Party Congress of the KDP in July 1964, representatives from the Ahmad-Talabani faction were promptly arrested upon arrival. A few days later Mulla Mustafa sent his son, Idris Barzani with a large force to drive Ahmad, Talabani, and their 4,000 or so followers into exile in Iran. With that, Mulla Mustafa had finally achieved undisputed control of the KDP.
Founding of the Party
After the defeat of the Kurds in the 1974-1975 Revolt, on June 1, 1975, Jalal Talabani and his supporters announced from Damascus the founding of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan(PUK). The PUK was a coalition of at least five separate political entities, the most significant of which were Talabani and his closest followers, Nawshirwan Mustafa's clandestine Marxist-Leninist group Komala, and the Kurdistan Socialist Movement (KSM), led by Ali Askari. The PUK served as an umbrella organization unifying various trends within the Kurdish political movement in Iraq. In 1992, the constituent groupings within the PUK merged into a unified political movement that affirmed its social-democratic identity and affiliation. Their communique ascribed the collapse of the revolt to "the inability of the feudalist, tribalist, bourgeois rightist and capitulationist Kurdish leadership".
The PUK received grass roots support from the urban intellectual classes of Iraqi Kurdistan upon its establishment, this was partly due to 13 of its 15 founding members being PhD holders and academics. In the early 1980s the PUK evolved and broadened its appeal to all sections of Kurdish society especially the rural classes. The regional Kurdish assembly elections showed that the PUK's support lies predominantly in the southern area of Iraqi Kurdistan. Since the first Gulf War, the PUK has jointly administered Iraqi Kurdistan with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). However, since 1994 the parties engaged into a three year conflict, known as the Kurdish Iraqi Civil War. The conflict ended with US mediation, and reconciliation was eventually achieved.
The Leadership Council elects the Secretary General and the 11 member Political Bureau. The PUK has 36 branches throughout Iraqi Kurdistan and draws membership from a broad cross-section of Kurdish society. The membership of the PUK, based on statistics compiled in September 1998, stands at 800,280 members and associates. The PUK contested the 1992 elections for the Kurdistan National Assembly, and the party list acquired 423,682 votes of the total of 957,469 valid votes cast - giving the PUK commanding majority in three of Iraqi Kurdistan four provinces.
The PUK's structure consist of 8 bureaus:
- Bureau for Organization: Manages PUK's organizations throughout the region, as well as producing and disseminating educational and informational materials for distribution to the membership. The bureau also supervises the electoral process within the organization and ensures that the party adheres to its bylaws.
- Bureau for Information: Supervises and manages PUK media operations. Currently, the PUK operates several outlets:
- The People of Kurdistan TV (Gali Kurdistan) (based in Sulaymaniyah), the main television station, and other smaller TV stations in the towns and districts of the region;
- The Voice of the People of Kurdistan, a radio station that broadcasts in Kurdish and Arabic. The transmission is received throughout the Middle East and Europe.
- Kurdistan-i-Nwe, a daily Kurdish newspaper, the Al-Itihad weekly in Arabic, and The Monitor, a daily bulletin in Kurdish and Arabic, which monitors international broadcasts on matters relating to Kurdish and Iraqi affairs;
- Bureau for Culture and Democratic Organization: Acts as a liaison with professional and cultural organizations such as the Students' Union of Kurdistan, Women's' League of Kurdistan, and the Writer's Association.
- Bureau of Finance and Management: Manages the financial affairs and administrative staff of the organization. The Leadership Council, through an independent Auditing Commission, supervises the activities of this bureau.
- Bureau for Human Rights: The bureau was instituted to monitor the human rights situation in Iraqi Kurdistan - with primary emphasis on the conduct of PUK members and leadership. The bureau acts as a liaison with local human rights organizations and engages in a wide range of educational campaigns with regard to human rights principles, the rule of law, and democracy and to ensure PUK's adherence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The bureau reports directly to the PUK Secretary General.
- Bureau for Social Affairs: In conjunction with the regional authorities, the bureau facilitates settlement of social disputes, particularly with regard to land and tribal matters.
- Bureau for Martyr's and Veteran Affairs: The bureau is tasked with assisting the families and dependents of victims of the war in Kurdistan and the veteran community.
- Bureau for International Relations: The bureau of international relations coordinates the activities of PUK representatives abroad and reports to PUK's political leadership on relations with foreign government and institutions. Today, PUK has permanent offices in Washington, London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Rome, Stockholm and Brussels, the seat of the European Parliament. In the Middle East, the PUK has offices in Tehran, Ankara, Syria and Egypt.
Iraqi Kurdistan legislative election, 2009
The PUK lost its stronghold city, Sulaymaniyah in the Iraqi Kurdistan legislative election of 2009. The main reason is believed by observers to be because of the accusation of alleged widespread corruption and centralization of decision making inside the structure of PUK. The formation of a new list, the Change List, that was formed by Nawshirwan Mustafa, a former PUK member, won the majority of the votes in Sulaymaniyah by 51%.
- Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq.
- Kosrat Rasul Ali, Vice President of Iraqi Kurdistan.
- Nawshirwan Mustafa, Founding member that resigned and founded the Change List.
- Fuad Masum, First Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government and currently leader of Kurdish bloc at the Iraqi Parliament.
- Latif Rashid, former spokesperson in the United Kingdom.
- Barham Salih, former prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government and former Deputy prime minister of Iraq.
- Najmadin Shukr Rauf, prominent member of the Peshmerga that was killed in action.
- Adel Murad, Ambassador of Iraq in Romania.
- Ibrahim Ahmad, influential Kurdish novelist.
- Omer Fattah Hussain, former deputy prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government.
- Shahab Sheikh Nuri, influential Kurdish politician.
- Part of the Kurdistan List
- Patriotic Union of Kurdistan - Official Website
- McDowall, David. A Modern History of the Kurds. London: I.B. Tauris, 2007 ed. p. 297
- McDowall, David. A Modern History of the Kurds. London: I.B. Tauris, 2007 ed. p. 242
- McDowall, David. A Modern History of the Kurds. London: I.B. Tauris, 2007
- McDowall, David. A Modern History of the Kurds. London: I.B. Tauris, 2007 ed. p. 316
- McDowall, David. A Modern History of the Kurds. London: I.B. Tauris, 2007 ed. p. 317