PUK: 49 Years Struggle for Kurdistan

P.U.K 09:34 AM - 2024-06-01

PUK's logo.

PUK Peshmerga Kurdistan President Mam Jalal

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) is a political party founded in the Kurdistan Region on June 1st, 1975. Its principles are democracy, human rights, and the right to self-determination. The PUK is a member of Socialist International.

How did the PUK come into existence?

The PUK was founded as a response to the end of the previous Kurdish revolution. The co-founders, Jalal Talabani (Mam Jalal), Nawshirwan Mustafa, Fouad Masoum, Kamal Fouad, Adil Murad, Omer Sheikhmus, and Abdul-Razaq Faili, met on May 22, 1975, at Talitla Restaurant in Damascus, Syria. They convened to discuss the establishment of a new political organisation. They subsequently announced the founding statement of the PUK on June 1st, 1975.

On December 17, 1975, the founding committee arranged an inclusive meeting at which the members outlined the fundamentals of the PUK’s activities inside and outside of the country.

Why did the PUK come into existence?

The PUK was formed in response to the collapse of the previous Kurdish revolt, known as the Aylul Revolution, after the former Iraqi government withdrew from the peace plan and autonomy agreement signed with the Kurdish people on March 11, 1970. The agreement was revoked because the Iraqi government reached an agreement with Iran's Shah on March 6, 1975, at the OPEC summit conference in Algeria, known as the Algiers Accord.

According to the Algiers Accord, the two countries of Iraq and Iran were to protect the security of their joint border areas; the two countries would not assist the rebels in those areas, and the two states would be in cooperation to oppose these rebel groups.

Iran withdrew all support and cooperation from Barzani and the Kurdish revolution's leadership. Thus, on March 20, 1975, the Kurdish revolution's leadership declared the revolution's end through the Dangi Kurdistan Radio Station, as read by a Peshmerga commander. The announcement stated that the Kurdish people and revolutionary Peshmergas would be free if they surrendered to the Iraqi government. 

Furthermore, the establishment of the PUK was also in response to the Iraqi regime’s practise of atrocities against the Kurdish people, which began with the forcible resettlement of the Kurdish people, including intellectuals and elites, to the middle and southern areas of Iraq. Within a short period, 30 to 40 thousand people were forcibly expelled to other Iraqi cities, including Nasiriyah, Diwaniyah, Samawah, Ramadi, and Amarah.

In addition, the Baath regime began to establish and expand its intelligence and security services, as well as its army bases within Kurdistan. 

These Baathist-led organisations attempted to recruit Kurdish government employees and citizens to become Baathists in a plan called Baathification. This plan was rapidly executed without resistance from the people of Kurdistan. In response, after some months since the halt of the Kurdish revolution, a group of Kurdish revolutionary figures and politicians announced the establishment of the PUK and ignited a new revolution in resistance to these atrocious acts of the Baath regime.

Key Components of the PUK

Marx-Lenin Association of Kurdistan

Members of the leadership of Marx-Lenin Association of Kurdistan were: 
Shahab Sheikh Nuri, Secretary inside the country
Muhammad Mirza Saed, Chief of the Baghdad Committee
Jaafar Abdul-Wahid, Chief of the Erbil Committee
Faraidun Abdul-Qadir- Chief of the Kirkuk Committee

Between 1970 and 1975, the association witnessed great progress as many people joined, especially from the Kurdistan Students Union and the Kurdistan Youth Union. Later, its cadres participated in the revolution of the Kurd-Arab war from 1974 to 1975. At the beginning of 1975, Mam Jalal sent a letter to the leadership of this association, demanding that it launch a long-term armed struggle. The association welcomed the letter's proposal to establish a new, inclusive political organisation on a national scale.

To discuss the establishment of that new organisation, the association held a meeting lasting two days in Kelu village.

After the meeting, cadres from the association began to collect and hide weapons. From March 27 to April 5, 1975, cadres from the association returned from the mountains to the cities to restructure their organisation. They also suggested sending armed groups to Qaradax, Sharbazher, Koya Plain, Hawraman, Halabja, and Shameran. Thus, the Marx-Lenin Association of Kurdistan became a catalyst for the establishment of the PUK.

The Iraqi government discovered the secret organisations that comprised the Marx-Lenin Association of Kurdistan in August 1975, and Anwar Zorab was arrested in his home with a pistol, as well as a variety of documents and written announcements. Later, the Baath regime launched an arrest campaign against other Marxist-Lenin Association of Kurdistan members.

Socialist Movement

The Socialist Movement was formed as a result of a series of meetings within the cadres of the Aylul Revolution who took refuge in Iran in 1975. The first meeting was held in April 1975, with attendance by Omer Dababa, Ali Askari, Dr. Khalid, Ali Hazhar, Kardo Galali, Ibrahim Ahmad, Jamal Agha, Rasul Mamand, Mala Nasih, Abdul-Rahman Goshini, Milazm Tahir, Ali Wali, and Kamal Mihedeen.

During that meeting, the attendants formed the socialist political movement to fight against the Baghdad regime. The first statement of the committee, which was tasked with the preparation of the Socialist Movement, was given in August 1976. 
This was initiated by 72 of the PDK's founding members, Saida Salih Yousifi, and a few isolated members from both factions.

On November 6, 1976, Omer Dababa, as a representative of the Socialist Movement, went to Damascus to join the founding committee of the PUK. Thus, the Socialist Movement was the first organisation after the Marx- Lenin Association of Kurdistan to join the PUK.

Heli Gishti

Besides the two organisations that joined the PUK, there was another group of revolutionary figures joining the PUK who kept up the revolutionary struggle but did not affiliate with these two organisations, known as the Heli Gishti (Xati Pan), translating literally as the Wide Line or the General Route in English. This group had a deep belief in the ideas of the PUK.

From 1977 onward, the Heli Gishti witnessed much progress and established many of its own organisations. Members such as Dr. Kamal Fouad, Dr. Fouad Masoum, Adil Murad, Omer Sheik Mus, and Abdul-Razaq Faili were senior members of Heli Gishti.

The Armed Struggle Stage

In mid-1976, the PUK started to form Peshmarga forces according to a plan to re-launch the armed struggle across the Kurdistan region.  This struggle was initially based on a hit-and-run approach, a tactic that later became widespread.

To begin this campaign, Mam Jalal contacted the Marx-Lenin Association and the Socialist Movement. On May 23 and 24, 1976, another meeting of the PUK founding committee was arranged in Sham. During the meeting, the beginning of the armed struggle was suggested and then approved. As a result, the founding committee dispatched the first Peshmarga groups to Kurdistan.

It also sent telegrams to organisational cells based in the central cities, instructing them to send armed groups into the mountains. In addition, the committee informed the cadres who were abroad to return home and thus join the struggle on the ground.

The PUK's armed struggle began in a few stages:

1. Creation of armed groups that would inform the people of a new Kurdish revolution and restore their morale.
2. Launch attacks on the military bases and checkpoints of the invading Iraqi governmental forces based in Kurdistan.
3. Reorganise the Peshmerga forces and armed groups and impose a new military discipline.

On May 25 and 26, 1976, armed groups mobilised in Haji Omeran and headed to Qandil Mountain.

On June 1, 1976, on the occasion of the 1st anniversary of the founding of the PUK, the first armed group, known as the Badinan Group from Syria, was moved to Kurdistan under the supervision of the now late Ibrahim Azo. On June 26, 1976, the PUK revolutionary leadership dispatched the first internal armed group to Suren Mountain in the Halabja area. In July, other armed groups were sent to Qaradagh and Sharbazher from Sulaymaniyah City, and they began to proclaim the re-ignition of the Kurdish revolution. Also, in July, another armed group belonging to the Kurdistan Socialist Movement headed to Qandil Mountain and there started conducting armed activities.




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