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 PUK struggles to reinvent itself

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PUK struggles to reinvent itself  11.5.2011
By Shwan Zulal -

May 11, 2011

, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', Kurdistan Region Prime Minister, Barham Salih, has submitted details of his assets and properties to his party's integrity committee. The PM has been struggling in recent years to convince his colleges to sign up to reforms and end corruption in Kurdistan Region. This move by Salih would undoubtedly upset many PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) officials that are in the centre of allegation and claims of rampant corruption. Moreover, it appears this initiative by the PM is once again another jibe at KDP to give it a nudge into agreeing on reform proposals.

Since mid February, many Kurds have taken to the streets, protesting and demanding an end to corruption in government and afterwards the fall of the government. The Kurdish government have been very slow to react to protesters demands. The only respond protesters got, was by shooting and killing at least 10 protesters and injuring many others. Meanwhile, Kurdish President, Massoud Barzani have made numerous promises about leaving office, reforms, dialogue and an end to corruption, but never kept any of them.

The latest enterprise by the PM can be a good start if implemented properly by having accurate audits in place. Nevertheless, the initiative has had very little publicity and only media loyal to the PM have covered his latest attempt to revive himself and his party.                              

Kurdistan Region Prime Minister, Barham Salih, has submitted details of his assets and properties to his party's integrity committee.

Massoud Barzani, president of Kurdistan region of Iraq and KDP chief.
It remains to be seen if anyone else apart from the PM would fill the form sent out and how many senior officials will do so. To have a guess, one person, which would automatically be immune from this audit, is the head of the party, Jalal Talabani (Iraqi President). If he fails to let the committee scrutinise his wealth, the whole scheme will lose credibility straight away.

The quickest way to get rich in Kurdistan is to become a politician. Many of PUK and KDP senior politicians have never ran successful businesses in the past as they were mostly in the resistance or abroad. Nevertheless, the richest people in Kurdistan Region right now, are those politicians. It is not a secret that many of them are involved in different businesses now have been accused of using their political influence to gain advantage. On top of that,
www.ekurd.netthere are hundreds of claims and allegations against politicians from all creeds of corruption, misappropriation government property, embezzlement, accepting kickbacks, misusing their position and market manipulation.

Salih's attempt to empower others to follow his lead falls short of asking the political parties to declare their interests too. It is public knowledge that companies controlled by the two incumbent parties are the main source of their income. These companies stand accused of manipulating markets for almost every commodity imported to and exported from Kurdistan.

PUK unlike KDP has an immense problem politically because the party divided within on the future direction. Although Gorran Movement lead by Nawshirwan Mustafa, took a large chunk of PUK's support, division within the party remains. On top of that, senior officials are positioning themselves to take over the leadership of the party after Talabani, and are all pulling in different directions

Once again, PM's attempt to show his reforming credentials runs the risk of being another flop just like his proposal answering protesters. His initiative lacks authority and fervour, because the declaration forms are requests and none of the party officials obliged to fill it and give accurate information. Yet another political gimmick as the committee will only be looking into PUK officials in government and not KDP's. This can only confirm the existence of a two-tier government (Slemani area controlled by PUK and Erbil and Duhok by KDP), which protesters have demanded to abolish.

The Kurdish PM may be very eloquent and politically savvy, but one thing he lacks, is authority and conviction. If he wants to make an impression, he needs to tackle the issues head-on, rather than tinker on the edges by having wish lists and aspirations. After all he is the prime minister, corruption and embezzling government funds is a criminal offence, therefore suspects should not be asked to volunteer information about their financial dealings but compelled.

Shwan Zulal is a Kurdish Blogger, a regular contributing writer for, interested in political and legal Reform in Kurdistan, KRG, Iraq and current Kurdish affairs, including oil exploration companies and relevant legislations. You may visit Zulal's website at

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