Mala Bakhtiar
Mala Bakhtiar

PUK veteran Mala Bakhtiar slams party leader in excoriating statement

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In a lengthy video message on Facebook, PUK veteran Mala Bakhtiar expressed disagreement over the powers of the High Political Council of PUK Interests, of which he (Bafel Talabani’s father-in-law) is a member. 

Mala Bakhtiar highlights the flaws in the organization of the current conference when compared to past ones. In previous assemblies, there was a rigorous lead-up to the conference itself. The preparatory period spanned over six months during which PUK cadres actively contributed articles to the PUK’s newspaper, formed committees, and held discussions to generate proposals for deliberation during the conference. Such groundwork is absent this time around.

Bakhtiar points out a ‘clear violation’ in how the conference is being conducted. The current format contradicts the party’s internal regulations, which were endorsed during the last conference [note: the PUK has recently made amendments to bylaws, presumably ones Bakhtiar cites here].

Bakhtiar stated that Talabani plans to expand the council to 21-31 members. He condemned the impending congress votes, labeling them “appointments, not elections.” He believes these votes will usher in a compliant body, mainly consisting of handpicked loyalists to the current leader. Bakhtiar observes that many devoted PUK cadres have been sidelined simply because they voiced criticism.

The council currently includes several members: Hero Ibrahim Ahmed (Bafel Talabani’s mother), Kosrat Rasul, Adnan Mufti, Diler Said Majid, Sheikh Jaafar Mustafa, Hakim Qadir Hamejan, Arsalan Bayiz, and Omer Fattah.

Bakhtiar revealed that the High Political Council members had not seen the proposal, leaving ambiguity about the inclusion of new members.

In his excoriating statement, Bakhtiar said, “The blame for not participating in the conference lies with the current Political Bureau members and, specifically, comrade Bafel Talabani.”

He noted that if he and his council had even 25% input into the PUK’s future direction, he would have remained involved. However, he’s “certain the council will have no influence moving forward.”

He added, “I believe that deep down, many PUK members, barring those indifferent to political integrity, are deeply concerned about the conference’s outcome and its procedures.”

Regarding the strategy to permanently expel Lahur Sheikh Jangi Talabany and his allies from the party, Bakhtiar slammed the decision as a shortsighted power move. He predicts this will backfire on the PUK in forthcoming elections when he anticipates the ousted PUK members will establish new electoral lists to divert votes from the PUK.

Bakhtiar further stated that many of the roughly 600 conference attendees recognize they weren’t democratically elected. Many of those abstaining are doing so out of an ‘unwavering commitment to their political integrity.’

In a hint at a perceived ignorance on Bafel Talabani’s behalf towards the PUK’s many challenges, Bakhtiar sarcastically remarked that Talabani envisions the PUK in a favorable position, unified, and primed for a significant victory in the upcoming elections. He added that Talabani assumes foreign countries are pleased with his policies. Bakhtiar says the PUK leader expects to secure 30 seats—nearly double its current total. It’s unclear if he was exaggerating for comedic effect but a prediction that the PUK will win 30 seats is hugely optimistic.

Concluding, Bakhtiar said he had hoped the PUK would maintain good international relations. But, “unfortunately, it was the opposite.” As he made this statement, an image of the aftermath of Turkey’s recent drone attack on Arabat airfield was inserted into his speech.