The growing conflict between the KDP and the PUK in Kirkuk

5/29/2019 2:49:02 PM

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Karwan Ibrahim
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Conflict between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) over Kirkuk is rising, with each accusing the other of making a secret agreement with Arab and Turkmen groups for control of the city. On May 5, a KDP delegation met with the PUK in Sulaimani and they signed the formal agreement to form the Kurdistan Regional Government, but tensions related to Kirkuk have threatened to derail that recent cooperation.

Moreover, Islamic State (ISIS) continues to attack civilians and burn farms in the province. It is time to harvest the crops, but the farmers are losing their livelihoods, the main political parties are fighting over their own private interests.

Media belonging to the KDP and the PUK publish news and reports against each other. For example, the KDP media channels say that PUK has signed an agreement with the Arabs and the Turkmens to support a plan to allow the current Kirkuk governor to remain in his position until the provincial election that will be held at the end of this year. According these pro-KDP reports, the agreement states that the governor will have three deputies, one of whom will be a Kurd. They also say that the content of the agreement has been sent to the central government and that Baghdad has not yet decided to approve the agreement yet.

In contrast, the PUK media channels say that the acting governor of Kirkuk Rakan al-Jabouri has a home in Erbil and has a good relationship with the KDP security forces. According to the PUK media, there is a deal between Iran, Turkey, Qatar, and the KDP about Kirkuk to elect an Arab or a Turkmen as governor in the general election, which once and for all will marginalize Kurds in the area.

The people of Kirkuk have been suffering for many decades because the city is in the disputed area. Every family has martyrs who died hoping for a better and honorable life. The main Kurdish political parties try to exploit that by using slogans. For example, the KDP says “Kirkuk is the heart of Kurdistan” and the PUK says “Kirkuk is Kurdistan’s Jerusalem.” Despite these lofty statements, it is clear that they are focused more on their own interests than those of the people, since they seem unable to solve the many social and economic issues in the province, like unemployment and electricity.

The situation in Kirkuk and the other disputed areas is becoming worse: ISIS threats are increasing and the conflicts between Arab and Kurds getting worse on the land and in villages. Even though they have not so far, the Kurdish political parties and the Iraq central government must try to solve the problems, otherwise the ISIS will fill the vacuum and it will be another threat for the entire country.


Karwan Ibrahim, is a senior news editor in Iraqi Kurdistan, and studied for his Master's in Communication and Journalism in India. He can be reached at karwantree@gmail.com


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of NRT.