Dr. Jwan Ihsan: The PUK remains united and committed to internal reform

Interviews 10:03 AM - 2023-01-30
Dr. Jwan Ihsan, a member of the PUK's Political Bureau PUKMEDIA

Dr. Jwan Ihsan, a member of the PUK's Political Bureau

Dr. Jwan Ihsan PUK

Dr. Jwan Ihsan, a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan's (PUK) Political Bureau, states that the PUK sees elections as a cornerstone of democracy. Nevertheless, the PUK has legitimate demands for the Kurdistan parliamentary elections, such as the eradication of the voter list, the enactment of a commission, and a suitable electoral law that ensures the integrity of the process.

In an exclusive interview with PUKMEDIA, Dr. Ihsan stated: "The PUK will not compromise on the lives and well-being of the people, whether in the Kurdistan Region or Iraq." This message is crystal clear, as President Bafel Jalal Talabani has proclaimed it publicly and is putting it into effect." She continued, "The PUK has and always will have open doors in Baghdad for dialogue and Kurdish unity, and we have no prerequisites for internal Kurdish unity."

The member of the Political Bureau declared: "We consider Qubad Talabani to be a very skilled politician who is first and foremost a statesman before being a partisan man." "He has always acted with great tolerance and responsibility, and he still fulfills his official obligations responsibly."

The PUK views elections as a cornerstone of democracy

Q: Political controversy surrounds the topic of parliamentary elections in the Kurdistan Region. What is the position of the PUK?

One aspect of the PUK's present policy is the internal affairs of the Kurdistan Region, particularly the question of elections, which the PUK has never opposed holding in the Kurdistan Region. This is the PUK's unwavering tenet because it supports true democracy, the democratic transfer of power through the ballot box, and the restoration of the people's right to vote, participate in political decision-making, and cast their ballots. Given this, the PUK sees elections as a cornerstone of democracy and will not obstruct them.

The electoral law has not been amended, and the voter registration list is not clear
Q: What kind of elections does the PUK want, or what are its prerequisites for elections?
The PUK wants the Kurdistan Region to hold elections that are fair, fully representative of the electorate, and benefit the electoral process. Because of this, the PUK has always advocated for a review of the region's election procedures and the adoption of new electoral laws, which the process itself demands because the region's current electoral law has not been updated in many years and all electoral laws must be reviewed after each election.

Another concern is the inspection of the voter registration list that will be used as the foundation for the process; the record needs to be cleared of the names of the deceased, refugees, and others because the current record is quite shaky. The PUK and other Kurdish forces, as well as expert organizations, do not believe the statistics to be accurate or clear. Elections cannot be considered fair if records are unreliable. Minority issues and the Independent Electoral Commission's procedures must both be addressed for elections to be legitimate.
The PUK's demands and concerns serve the election process
Q: How do other Kurdish forces view the PUK's prerequisites?

The majority of the political forces in the Kurdistan Region support the PUK's demands, which makes them public and legitimate demands before even they become political demands. The Kurdistan Parliament must then work on the legal framework to ensure free and credible elections for the political forces and voters because that is worthy of the Kurdistan Region's experience so that Iraq can benefit from our experience.

This makes the PUK's position clear and indicative of the lack of any political drive at the level of the Kurdistan Region. The PUK's demands and fears about the Kurdistan Region's electoral process, as well as its adamancy and concerns about democracy and the preservation of the region's history and identity, are all in the public's interest.
The PUK supports a government that serves the people
Q: The PUK's involvement with and viewpoint on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) raises additional issues. The PUK is a partner in the KRG, but we have recently been seeing tensions within the government.

The cause of this problem and the existing misunderstandings in the Kurdistan Region is a poor approach to engaging with the PUK and other parties involved in governance and working toward a true partnership. As a result, it is necessary to fully address the PUK's legitimate concerns. Not the other way around; we want a successful experience that gives services and serves the public on an equal footing and without bias in all sectors.

A long history, a bloody struggle, and numerous martyrs characterize the PUK. To achieve freedom, democracy, and the rights of our people, this has been done. Citizens should enjoy prosperity owing to their institutions and government, and they should live lives that are secure and free from challenges, both of which are nonexistent. Therefore, the PUK has the right to change course, and other Kurdish forces must also do so. The PUK's goals and their attainment are not detrimental to the process; rather, ignoring them is.
Qubad Talabani is a statesman and a successful figure
Q: So in the sense that its regional and Iraqi policies will be in that direction, the PUK will assume this responsibility?

There are numerous noteworthy characteristics in the PUK's history, followers, and local, Iraqi, and global effects. It is an extremely potent political force. Therefore, the PUK will put these characteristics in the service of the people and will not compromise the lives or the welfare of the people in the Kurdistan Region or Iraq. This message is crystal clear, as President Bafel Jalal Talabani has publicly proclaimed and demonstrated.

The PUK team works sincerely for us to have decent administration and governance, and they are achieving this. Their work's results are evident. In addition, we as the PUK have a great deal of faith in ourselves and our government team, particularly Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani. Before he is a partisan, he is a statesman. As a political party, we view him as a very successful figure. He has always been quite tolerant and responsible in carrying out his governmental duties, and he still is. I want to emphasize that he was a very tolerant person while working with and leading his team, as well as when leading and interacting with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) team and all other government partner parties. We are well aware of Qubad Talabani's collaboration and how he is a team worker. To achieve the ultimate goal of serving the people and offering services to the region without discrimination, he had a broad vision and ethically managed his team.
The PUK is genuinely defending Kurdish rights in Baghdad
Q: What are the policies of President Bafel and the PUK at the Iraqi level and the strategy of political work with the Kurdish forces and the Iraqi forces in Baghdad?

The policy of the PUK at the Iraqi level is pretty clear. Our policies and principles are solid and unchanging, and we will continue to implement them. The PUK's ideology and objectives at the level of Iraq are to act responsibly and strategically toward the changes, exactly as President Mam Jalal has laid out a road map for us to follow. The PUK will work the same way under President Bafel's leadership. The PUK genuinely defends the legitimate and constitutional rights of the Kurdish people and focuses its efforts on serving and realizing such rights.

President Mam Jalal brought the PUK closer to the Iraqi parties through his relations with other Iraqi political parties, he had even done so on a regional and international level. President Bafel Jalal Talabani, who represents the PUK, is working in the same manner in Iraq.
The Kurds need unity in Baghdad
Q: Regarding unity, what is the role of the PUK and its political plan?

What we currently want is unity in Iraq, and within Iraq, we want unity among the Kurds, since there are several issues, most notably the oil and gas law, which the Iraqi parliament must prepare for, as well as the 2023 budget bill, which we are aware that the government is about to send to the parliament. These issues require Kurdish unity, the unity of the Kurdish forces, and Kurdish factions in Baghdad. The job of the Kurdish forces in Baghdad is to serve the Kurdish people, and efforts should be put in this direction since the PUK is in Baghdad to achieve this great objective.

Various sections in the budget bill require the Kurdish factions to agree upon, whether it is the PUK and KDP or with other parties, including those in opposition to the two ruling parties in the Kurdistan Region. In addition, the Kurdish forces should negotiate and establish an agreement with the other Iraqi parliamentary factions to vote on and adopt the laws that will benefit the Kurdish people. Therefore, the PUK is prepared to address this and many other concerns in Baghdad, and it has been determined that the PUK will have a political presence in Baghdad.
We have no conditions for Kurdish unity
Q: Are the Kurds united? What is the PUK doing for this unity?

The PUK has and will always have open doors in Baghdad for dialogue and Kurdish unity, and we have no prerequisites for Kurdish unity. In contrast, the PUK president is exerting every effort to achieve this important goal.

The Kurdish presence in Baghdad is necessary and must be done with an open mind, taking into account a political strategy and the higher interests, so that the political movements and capabilities fall to the benefit of the Kurdish people, the people also want this from the Kurdish forces. However, in the current term of the Iraqi parliament, I observe that the Kurds lack a solid unity which the situation demands. As a reminder, Kurdish unity during the first, second, and third terms of the parliament resulted in positive outcomes for the Kurds, with unity serving as the main driving force. This unity is the path to success and the accomplishment of Kurdish rights and privileges. The PUK has made efforts in this regard, which is an honorable duty that is supported by everyone. In addition to being marginalized, the Kurdish forces' lack of unity will put the Kurds' rights in peril because several sensitive and important bills that will have an impact on people's daily lives will be introduced. They can only benefit the Kurdish people through unity; otherwise, they will be extremely harmful. Political bargaining should not dominate the decisive issues, particularly for populist parties, that have harmed Kurdish unity and caused division, damaged the minds of Kurdish individuals, and had a detrimental effect on decision-making in Iraq, particularly in the legislature where laws are enacted. If this continues, there is a serious risk; history will not spare anyone, and those guilty will be accountable to current and future generations.
Political conflicts should not affect people's livelihoods
Q: In his political negotiations with the Iraqi forces, the PUK President has drawn a red line on the subject of the people's livelihood. How well did others respond to this?

President Bafel's message is that the livelihood of the people is a red line that should not be exploited as a political card in any political dispute within or beyond the Kurdistan Region. The lives of the people should not be involved in political battles, so this is unquestionably a sacred message that is supported by everybody. Certainly, this PUK objective has been explained to and accepted by Iraqi forces.

As political parties, we are all accountable for persuading our personal consciences before our partisan consciences that not everyone is in power and that not everyone has a voice in political decision-making, but that we have been appointed as agents. Therefore, when in parliament, or when it is time to vote on the budget, or when it is time for dialogue, whether with political forces or parliamentary factions, we must keep in mind that we are discussing the livelihood and basic needs of the people; we are working for the needs of a child who goes to school and needs food, who needs his or her family's peace not to be disrupted by the stubbornness of one party and the use of the budget, salaries, and the livelihood of the people as a pressure card. In this regard, the PUK and President Bafel will not allow the use of the livelihood of the people as a pressure card.

Concurrently, the PUK and President Bafel emphasized that Iraqi political parties must not renounce the rights of the Kurdish people and use them as political cards against the Kurdistan Region. This is the policy that the PUK and President Bafel openly discussed before the formation of the current Iraqi cabinet.
The PUK remains united and committed to internal reform

Q: What has the PUK done so far in terms of unified decision-making and a unified direction? Above all, political reform and PUK self-organization.

I would like to make it very clear that we are proud of the fact that, in terms of local and foreign policy, the PUK, despite all the challenges it has faced and all the conspiracies against it, has not deviated from its strategic principles and beliefs and is always ready for unity and does not abandon this goal. To accomplish this, we were able to develop a definitive policy. To have a clear direction and a policy that is both worthy of the PUK and is in the best interests of our people, the movements of the PUK, President Bafel, and the entire PUK leadership are seen in the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad political arenas.

Simultaneously, the PUK maintains its internal and external reforms, which have had a very favorable impact on its organs, including the government and even local administrations in areas where we have organization centers. Other internal and external elements attest to the fact that the leadership of this party is now able to take significant steps, make courageous decisions, and implement them, notably the party leader, who possesses a completely open and brilliant mentality.




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