Begerd Talabani (PUK), Dana Abdulkarim (Gorran), Reber Ahmed (KDP|) and Qubad Talabani (PUK)
Begerd Talabani (PUK), Dana Abdulkarim (Gorran), Reber Ahmed (KDP) and Qubad Talabani (PUK)

Gorran’s response to KDP-PUK rapprochement

Following the accord between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) on the latter’s re-engagement in Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) meetings, the Change Movement (Gorran) reportedly expressed displeasure.

Gorran, which branched off from the PUK in 2009, was the region’s leading opposition party and is currently a junior partner in the KRG. Draw reported Gorran’s apprehension about the KDP-PUK pact, particularly emphasizing protests from their team in government, including Housing and Reconstruction Minister Dana Abdulkareem and Labour and Social Affairs Minister Kwestan Mohamad, about finance-related issues. The report also claimed that Planning Minister Dara Rashid from the PUK bloc downplayed Gorran’s Finance Minister Awat Sheikh Janab’s authority, hinting there was no need for concerns over the agreement’s financial implications.

In a conversation with KNN, Gorran’s official mouthpiece, Minister Abdulkareem expressed optimism about financial and salary developments in the region. NRT English attempted to contact the minister, but he was unavailable for comment. A former high-ranking Gorran official refutes Draw’s reports, stating that the party viewed the KDP-PUK agreement as a positive step for the Kurdistan Region.

Following US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara A. Leaf’s recent visit to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, which urged the ruling parties to resolve their conflicts, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani held an unexpected meeting.

The deputy prime minister also attended the opening of the Barzani National Memorial, a tribute to KDP founder Mustafa Barzani. Subsequently, the PUK’s ministerial team agreed to participate in a cabinet meeting for the first time in over six months, ending a boycott due to financial and security concerns and disputes over the deputy prime minister’s authority.

The KRG confirmed the meeting on their website, emphasizing unanimous approval for a draft law on public finance restructuring in the Kurdistan Region. The law aims to centralize revenues, liquidity, public expenses, and salaries, and to connect banking, treasury, customs, and tax revenues through an electronic system.

Earlier this month, Gorran’s Finance Minister Awat Sheikh Janab refuted allegations from PUK politburo member and Iraq’s First Lady, Shanaz Ibrahim Ahmed, about his responsibility for Sulaymaniyah province’s financial issues. Janab insisted that the problems in Sulaymaniyah were unrelated to his cabinet, hinting that the PUK was responsible.

Gorran, the former opposition party, used to be a vocal critic of the KRG’s ruling parties, particularly the KDP, which they accused the PUK, their parent party, of cozying up to. Now, Gorran is walking a tightrope as a junior KRG partner and as part of a coalition with the PUK formed during Iraq’s last election in 2021.

Despite their smaller stature and potential loss in the next regional elections, rumors of Gorran dissolving and rejoining the PUK ranks are unlikely to come to fruition under PUK leader Bafel Talabani’s leadership due to Gorran’s historical criticism of family rule. Without forming alliances, Gorran is expected to lose seats to other opposition parties.