The move has eased tensions since the murder of an intelligence officer blamed on KDP PUK.
The political party Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in northern Iraq has ended a months-long boycott of the Kurdish regional government’s cabinet meetings with its main coalition partner, the ruling Democratic Party of Kurdistan (KDP).
The move eased tensions between two factions, which had engaged in civil war in the 1990s, and calmed Western fears that the rift would deepen between the PUK and the KDP, both of which have played major roles in the fight against ISIL (ISIS). .
The PUK had been boycotting cabinet meetings since Hawker Abdullah Rasoul, an intelligence officer who had spent 20 years with the PUK, was killed in a bomb in Erbil in his SUV on Oct. 7, 2022, three Kurdish government officials who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity .
The PUK is a junior coalition partner of Iraqi-Kurdish Prime Minister Masrour Barzani’s KDP, with whom it has a long history of squabbling over influence and power. The PUK is led by the Talabani clan.
Last year, the KDP openly blamed the PUK for the brutal murder of Rasoul, sparking a series of incidents that have strained the power-sharing arrangement.
The PUK has strongly denied the allegations, saying they are politically motivated.
On November 9, PUK leader Bafel Talabani flew to Erbil, which is controlled by the KDP, accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, dozens of security personnel and one of the men wanted for Rasoul’s assassination.
The group was unable to leave the airport until the president intervened, a source told Reuters.
I was happy to host DPM @qubadjt for lunch today.
In the spirit of constructive and open dialogue, we discussed issues in government and agreed on how to move forward -mb. pic.twitter.com/yX12hwDrAh
— Masrour Barzani (@masrourbarzani) May 8, 2023
Political relations continued to deteriorate until PUK ministers boycotted KRG meetings.
Last week, Barzani and Qubad Talabani met for the first time since the murder.
The breakthrough came days after a US State Department delegation, including Barbara Leaf, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, visited Erbil and met with leaders from both sides.
Analysts have said the break is a major distraction from what the government should be doing to address public service problems and high unemployment in a region rich in oil and gas.