Patriotic Union of Kurdistan


Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
(PUK)
   Following the collapse of Mulla Mustafa Barzani's revolt in March 1975, the Iraqi Kurdish movement Barzani had headed splintered and fell into disarray. On 1 June 1975, Jalal Talabani announced in Damascus the creation of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, made up at the time of two major groups: Komala, a Marxist organization headed by Naw-shirwan Mustafa (Amin) and no relation to the Iranian organizations of the same name, and the Socialist Movement of Kurdistan, led by Ali Askari. At its first formal congress in 1992, the PUK merged its constituent groups within a unified political movement that affirmed its social democratic identity.
   Talabani himself had been Barzani's off-again, on-again associate in earlier years and with his father-in-law, Ibrahim Ahmed, had led the KDP Politburo as a rival to Barzani's authority. Thus, the new PUK was in many ways the successor of the earlier KDP Politburo, claiming to be progressive and socialist while denouncing Barzani and his Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)—now led by Bar-zani's sons Massoud Barzani and Idris Barzani (died 1987)—as tribal and reactionary. In 1977, Talabani returned to Iraqi Kurdistan, establishing his headquarters just inside the Iranian border west of Sardasht. Since then, the KDP and PUK have been the two most important Iraqi Kurdish parties. Indeed, their up-and-down fortunes have been largely those of the Iraqi Kurds and their Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) created in 1992.
   Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the KDP and PUK have continued to dominate Kurdish politics through their electoral alliance as the Kurdistani List for both Iraqi and KRG elections. Jalal Talabani became the largely ceremonial but still effective president of Iraq, while Massoud Barzani became the president of the KRG and his nephew Nechirvan Idris Barzani the prime minister of the KRG. Although the PUK fought an unfortunate civil war against the KDP from 1994 to 1998—resulting in two separate KRGs—on 7 May 2006 the two parties finally reestablished a unified KRG.
   In addition to its leader, the PUK has a Leadership Council (Central Committee) of 32 members and Politburo of 11 members. There also are branches in all the major cities and towns of the area. Dazgay Zanyari (Information Agency) is the security and intelligence body of the party. The PUK's organizational structure also includes several media outlets, including Kurdistani Nwe, a daily newspaper in Kurdish, and Kurd Sat, a satellite television station broadcasting programs in Kurdish. The PUK maintains a website at www.puk.org.
   According to its program, the PUK strives for the right of self-determination for the Kurdish people within a unified democratic Iraq. The party advocates a political settlement to the Kurdish problem that is based on the principles of democracy, human rights, and the recognition of national and cultural identity. In addition, the PUK program seeks the promotion of a civil society with democratic institutions. It advocates free and open elections, freedom of speech and press, and other fundamental human rights, including gender equality. Indeed, the PUK's program specifically declares that the "PUK struggles to implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." The PUK program also states that it believes in a combination of free-market forces and government policy to promote balanced economic and social development and welfare.
   Jalal Talabani continues to be the head of the PUK with the official title of secretary-general. However, by 2009 he had been president of Iraq for several years and also had become old. Nawshirwan Mustafa, the former number two PUK leader, resigned in December 2006 to head the Gorran party. Along with numerous other PUK dissidents, Mustafa argued for real power sharing and accused the PUK leadership of corruption, lack of transparency in the distribution of revenue and spending, and the absence of social justice in the KRG region, among others. This challenge threatened the very future of the PUK. Indeed, mostly at the expense of the PUK, Gorran captured 25 seats in the KRG parliamentary elections held on 25 July 2009. Thus, the PUK's future had become problematic. Nevertheless, a leading PUK leader, Barham Salih, eventually became the new KRG prime minister, as previously agreed upon with the KDP.

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

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