Saturday, July 12, 2014

KDP, PUK, and Kurdish Independence

There are two important Kurdish political factions in Iraq: the KDP, which leads the Kurdistan Regional Government, and the PUK, which has more influence on the national stage.  I last blogged a bit about them here.  Mohammed Salih writes for The Christian Science Monitor of their differing attitudes towards independence:
But behind the front of Kurdish secessionism lies a quietly simmering battle between two dominant political faction that could undermine any independence push. On one side is Massoud Barzani, the head of the Kurdish Regional Government, whose Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP)  wants independence now. On the other is the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of Jalal Talabani, which is divided on the question and distrust the KDP's motives...
The predominantly Kurdish parts of northern Iraq are now divided into two zones of influence, a legacy of the 1980s conflict. The KDP controls the local administrations and security forces in Erbil and Duhok provinces, while the PUK is the dominant force in Sulaimaniyah and Kirkuk provinces...
Unlike the PUK, the KDP has a relatively centralized decisionmaking process and Barzani is its undisputed leader. The PUK has lacked a strong leader since Talabani was reported to have suffered a stroke two years ago. The party is split on the bid for independence – some officials support and others oppose...
The KDP, with its dominant role in the regional government, has developed strong ties with neighboring Turkey, which sees the benefit of an independent Iraqi Kurdistan with its own oilfields. The PUK is more mindful of Iran's influence and its sensitivities towards its own Kurdish minority. Some PUK officials argue that many countries in the region are opposed to a breakaway state and that could undermine it. 

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