🔴 Iraqi Kurdistan: "We are Kurds. There is such a thing as Kurdish stubbornness", said Bafel Talabani (@Bafeltalabani), relating how he would not act on Turkey's demands to close down organisations friendly to PKK.#PUK – #Turkey – #PKKhttps://t.co/fQL6j3oiWo pic.twitter.com/tvLcznbget
— MedyaNews (@1MedyaNews) October 12, 2023
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of the two ruling powers in Iraqi Kurdistan, will not close certain ‘offices’ and ‘parties’ based in Sulaymaniyah (Silêmanî) as demanded by Turkey, PUK leader Bafel Talabani said in an interview on Wednesday.
During a one-on-one conversation with the Middle East Research Institute’s founding president Dlawer Ala’Aldeen, Talabani openly discussed the challenging nature of the PUK’s relationship with Ankara, emphasising the pressing need for dialogue in the midst of recent friction.
Talabani lamented that Ankara’s actions resulted in the loss of lives of three “anti-IS heroes” and personal friends of his whom, he said, were “martyred” with no justification at all at Arbat airport in Sulaymaniyah. The three died in a recent deadly attack by a drone that took off from Turkey, further adding to the growing discord between Turkey and the PUK.
The primary contention at the heart of the recent friction lies in the conflicting perspectives regarding the situation in North and East Syria. The PUK’s closeness to North and East Syria’s Kurdish parties contrasts with the views of Turkey.
Turkey has been demanding that the PUK distance itself from certain parties it defined as ‘terrorists’, claiming they had links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and that it bring an end to the presence of these parties in Sulaymaniyah, which is the stronghold of the PUK.
Talabani expressed his frustration with the methods employed by Turkey. “We cannot close those parties; we have no right to do so. It is very interesting, they tell me that the Turkish Defence Minister threatened us”, he stated, highlighting the adverse impact of pressure, threats and drone attacks on the possibilities of establishing constructive dialogue. “But we are Kurds. There is such a thing as Kurdish stubbornness”, he said.
Notably, Talabani has ceased visiting Turkey due to the growing ideological disparities between his party’s stance and that of the Turkish authorities on the Kurdish-held regions in Syria and the PKK.
Despite these tensions, Talabani insisted that dialogue should be the preferred method of conflict resolution. “Dialogue cannot be established under pressure, threats and drones; it is wrong to resort to these methods. This is the language of war, and we are not at war with them”, he stressed.
“But if they want a solution, we will help them. The KDP [Kurdistan Democratic Party] will also help”, he said. “When ISIS gangs attacked, the PKK defended this place. Massoud Barzani himself came to the Makhmour (Mexmûr) region and thanked them. I was there. I saw it myself,” he stated, referring to the leader of the KDP, the second of the two ruling powers in Iraqi Kurdistan.