The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) is, on the surface and in terms of privileges and power, one of the main partners of the ninth cabinet of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The party has been given more posts and power than it actually deserves. The PUK is not only playing a negative role against the Kurdistan Region and its people, it is also the biggest impediment standing in the way of carrying out reforms as well as efforts to unify Peshmerga forces.
The conduct of the PUK is such as if its primary duty is to oppose the constitutional status of the Kurdistan Region and its people. The party has been embezzling public revenues in Sulaymaniyah, Halabja, Garmian, and Raparin district. Moreover, the PUK has also monopolized revenues generated at border crossings, is involved in smuggling commodities, and also taking bribes from traders. The party has also confiscated all strategic pieces of land in these areas, using them to advance its interests and those of its companies.
The PUK, which is monopolized by Bafel and Qubad Talabani, doesn't use revenues generated in Sulaymaniyah for public service projects in the province, nor does the party allow the Kurdistan Regional Government to execute service and infrastructure development projects in these areas. The party's security establishment has been found complicit in plotting to assassinate party members and leaders critical of the PUK in Erbil, Sulaymaniyah, Garmian, and Raparin district.
Yet, Bafel and Qubad Talabani continue to harbor murderers and terrorists, and have consistently refused to hand them over to the judiciary. What's more, the PUK has consistently been hindering efforts to unify Peshmerga forces and carry out Peshmerga reforms.
Bafel and Qubad Talabani seized power without having competence or experience. They are inept, and are fit for anything other than leading a party or governing a province. These two brothers are currently very close allies of Iraqi militia groups blacklisted as terrorist groups by the US and the EU. Therefore, they behave with a militia mentality, fearing the fact that Peshmerga forces will be under the command of the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs if they are unified, and not under their control.
Shorish Ismael was Minister of Peshmerga Affairs from the beginning of this KRG cabinet. He was known to be a supporter of Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and his vision for reform making and a unified Peshmerga force. Ismael also had good coordination with US and coalition forces. He was very serious and determined to unify Peshmerga forces. That's why Bafel and Qubad Talabani removed him from his position as minister to prevent the unification of Peshmerga forces and reforms.
We all know that the US and its allies including the UK, Germany, France, and Italy, have been supporting the KRG and have been very serious in their support for the unification of Peshmerga forces. But, PUK's Bafel and Qubad Talabani have consistently been impeding the Peshmerga unification process, disappointing the US and allies in this regard.
So, why would Bafel and Qubad Talabani prevent the unification of Peshmerga forces?
1.Current PUK's ruling leaders are not statesmen. Rather, they are solely concerned with money making and enriching themselves.
2.Current PUK's ruling leaders, Bafel and Qubad Talabani in particular, think with a militia mentality. That's, they want their Peshmerga forces to remain under their command, not under the command of the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs.
3.Current PUK's ruling leaders are closest allies with leaders of Iraq's militia groups, who are blacklisted. Note that Bafel Talabani appears wearing a pair of boots and black costume normally worn by militia groups.
4.Current PUK's ruling leaders are complicit in the financial corruption endemic in PUK Peshmerga budget. That's why they want to keep access to this financial corruption.
5.Current PUK's ruling leaders are very hostile to the KRG despite being main partners in this cabinet, and this is because Prime Minister Masrour Barzani remains committed to confronting corruption.
6.There's a dangerous regional agenda working to undermine the government in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. Current PUK's ruling leaders are part of this agenda.
7.Current PUK's ruling leaders want PUK's Peshmerga forces to serve the interests of Iraqi militia groups.
The people of the Kurdistan Region, as much as the KRG Prime Minister, want to see Peshmerga forces unified. The US and its allies along with other friends of the Kurdistan Region share the same wish. That's why, the PUK, Bafel and Qubad Talabani will pay a heavy price for opposing the unification process of Peshmerga forces. Until then, I hope they cannot do more harm to the Kurdistan Region and its constitutional status.