News from Iraqi Kurdistan’s Sulaymaniyah Governorate, the stronghold of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party, suggests that divisions within the Talabani family are profoundly shaking the Kurdish nationalist party that was founded by Jalal Talabani some 46 years ago.
A difference in visions and interests has manifested in a possible power struggle between Bafel Talabani and Qubad Talabani, the sons of the late founder, and their paternal cousin Lahur Talabany.
In February 2020, Lahur and Bafel were elected as co-chairs of the PUK, following years of wrangling within the party over who would succeed the late Jalal Talabani, who died in 2017.
However, current signs confirm the end of the era of co-chairing in the party as PUK sources point out that the tug of war within the party will be resolved in favor of the sons of the founding leader and at the expense of their cousins.
Party media and official social media accounts on Monday named Bafel president of the PUK. The identification was made following Bafel and Lahur holding a meeting with former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi.
In contrast, Lahur’s media office released a statement about the meeting in which he was still named as the PUK’s co-chair.
While the party’s official media outlet focused on a “PUK roadmap and clear national strategy towards overall equations,” the statement released by Lahur’s media office focused on the “pressing need for unity among national ranks.”
The latter statement also said that accord is needed on “all sensitive and crucial issues to protect the country from problems and fragmentation and help achieve stability, security and services for citizens in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.”
The PUK was founded in 1975 after breaking away from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
The two parties fought a long civil war in the 1990s before agreeing to share power in a united administration. They both retain their own Peshmerga units and geographical areas of influence.