Erbil, Asharq Al-Awsat—The governor of Kirkuk announced on Monday that Iraq’s president, Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani, would return to Iraqi Kurdistan soon, after spending two years in hospital in Germany.
Najmiddin Karim, a member of Talabani’s party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), told an election rally in Chamchamal, 87 miles (140 kilometers) southeast of Erbil, that Talabani’s return was “imminent.”
The 80-year old Iraqi president and Kurdish leader suffered a stroke at the end of 2012, and has been receiving medical treatment in Germany since then. Karim is understood to be close to Talabani, and has previously acted as his personal physician.
Meanwhile, the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) local committee in Suleimaniyah came under attack by unknown assailants on Sunday night. This follows assurances by leaders of the PUK and KDP that the situation in Suleimaniyah was calm following an earlier shooting at a KDP branch.
Officials in Suleimaniyah criticized comments by KDP Member of Parliament Ari Harsin, in which he said he would defend the headquarters of his party “with his own weapon” because of the absence of security in Suleimaniyah.
The mayor of Suleimaniyah, Aout Ali, told a news conference: “Harsin’s comments are unacceptable, and the security forces in the city perform their duties efficiently.”
More than 60 lawyers also launched lawsuits against Harsin, accusing him of smearing the city and demanding that the court punish him for standing outside his party’s headquarters with his weapon.
Harsin refused to comment on the lawsuits, saying he would clarify his comments in a later news conference.
However, he told Asharq Al-Awsat that Suleimaniyah “has become dangerous for the KDP’s supporters due to the evident presence of gangs which attack parties and civilian institutions.”
The leader of the KDP’s list in Suleimaniyah in the forthcoming provincial council elections, Abdelwahab Ali, told Asharq Al-Awsat his party feared the situation in Suleimaniyah could reach “levels which would make it difficult to preserve the security and stability of the city.” He added that this danger “does not only threaten members of the KDP, but all residents of Suleimaniyah.”
In another development, the KDP accused the Gorran candidate for the position of Suleimaniyah governor, Haval Abu Bakr, of being a former affiliate of the Ba’ath Party, and said that he had “published articles and poems which praised the [Ba’ath] Party.”
Aso Faraidoon Ali Amin, the leader of the PUK list for Suleimaniyah in the provincial council elections, handed out copies of a Ba’ath-era Kurdish newspaper, Hawkouri, at a seminar at Suleimaniyah’s Human Development University, which he said proved his rival had praised Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath Party prior to the uprising of 1991.
Abu Bakr defended himself at the same seminar, saying: “Everything which is presented by the PUK is nothing but lies . . . If you could prove that I once wrote a word of praise of the Ba’ath Party, I would not object to being executed in front of the government building in Suleimaniyah.”