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Iraqi Kurdistan: KDP–PUK alliance still going strong - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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File photo of  Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) politburo spokesman Fadel Mirani. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

File photo of Kurdistan Democratic Party politburo spokesman Fadel Mirani. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Erbil, Asharq Al-Awsat—In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) politburo spokesman Fadel Mirani reaffirmed his party’s commitment to “the strategic agreement with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK.)”

Mirani dismissed reports that the KDP–PUK alliance had been severed in the wake of September’s parliamentary elections, which saw the Gorran (Movement for Change) beat the PUK to second place. The KDP emerged as winners, securing 38 out of 111 seats, with caretaker Prime Minister Nechervan Barzani being tasked with forming a new government.

Talks to form a new Kurdistan government are ongoing, with analysts predicting that it could be based on a strong KDP–Gorran alliance, with the PUK taking a smaller role.

The KDP–PUK political alliance sustained the previous government, but rumors of rifts emerged following the news that Kurdistan’s two main political parties would seek to contest the 2013 parliamentary elections on separate lists.

Responding to questions about the KDP–PUK alliance, Mirani told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The deal will continue between the two parties until the Kurdish political movement and the Kurdistan region find themselves in a better situation . . . but this has not developed yet. At a Kurdish and Iraqi level, we still need this deal to continue.”

Mirani stressed that despite its underwhelming election results, the PUK remained a key strategic ally for the KDP.

“The PUK is an important and strategic ally [for the KDP] at this stage, and this is evidenced by the fact that the political, non-official talks regarding the formation of a new government started with the PUK, not Gorran,” he said.

Commenting on the KDP’s failure to win an outright majority at September’s elections, Mirani said: “Perhaps our ambitions and aspirations surpass what we achieved in the elections, but we have enough allies to ensure a 51-percent majority.”

The KDP spokesman also rejected criticisms of the elections, saying: “Despite what was said and is being said by parties and political blocs, Kurdistan’s parliamentary elections this year were excellent in terms of fairness and voter turnout.”

“The KDP won the most seats at the elections and our priority is to ensure that the people of Kurdistan emerge as the biggest winners,” he added.

Mirani also expressed satisfaction at the “positive response” from Kurdish parties and political factions regarding their participation in the next government.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “While some believe that such a government will be weak, fragile or unable to function, some look at it in a positive way given that it will enjoy a broad participation and a strong base of support.”

“Personally I look at the government in a positive way particularly given that Iraqi Kurdistan in particular and Iraq in general needs calm over the next four years,” he added.