A senior official from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on Tuesday said they endorse the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Iraq’s October 10 parliamentary elections and called on people to vote for the party.
Cemil Bayik claimed to PKK-affiliated Sterk TV that the Turkish government is trying to weaken Sulaimani’s ruling PUK by targeting PKK members in the province.
Voters in Sulaimani “have to abolish this plan. No matter what ideology they have – whether they are affiliated to the PUK or not – everyone should want the PUK to emerge strong in these elections so that the games of the enemy do not work,” he said.
The PKK has enjoyed good relations with the PUK for two decades, but its relationship is thorny with the PUK’s main rival, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) which enjoys strong economic ties with Turkey.
The KDP dismissed the PKK’s endorsement of the PUK. Jaafar Imniki, a member of the party’s politburo, told Rudaw’s Shaho Amin on Wednesday that Bayik “has no business in Iraqi elections at all.”
He predicted the PUK could actually be harmed by the support from the PKK, but ultimately “it will not have any impact on the election.”
In Sulaimani this month, there were two reported attacks on PKK members, one deadly. Yasin Bulut, also known as Shukri Sarhat, was killed on September 17. Qubad Talabani, head of the PUK’s election alliance with the Change Movement (Gorran) and deputy prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), condemned the attack.
One day after the murder, Sulaimani security forces announced the arrest of a suspect who they alleged was also involved in an attempted assassination of another PKK-affiliated person, Ferhat Baris, on September 15. The PKK blamed Turkey for both incidents and claimed that the real killer is still at large.
Turkey has previously condemned PUK for allegedly granting freedom of movement to the PKK.
The PUK has been suffering from internal power struggles since the death of its leader and founder Jalal Talabani in 2017. His sons – Qubad Talabani and Bafel Talabani – ended the rule of party co-chair and their cousin Lahur Talabany in early July.
“The PUK people and our people in Sulaimani should be aware that the enemies of Kurds will want to deepen these issues,” Bayik told Sterk TV.
Lahur Talabany’s fall was seen as a slap in the face for the PKK as he was a supporter of the group.