Bafel Talabani says ‘necessity’ for Kurds to be united in Baghdad; confirms he was ‘poisoned’

PUK Co-president Bafel Talabani speaks during an interview with a number of journalists in Sulaimani

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Co-president Bafel Talabani said it is a “necessity” for the Kurds to become united and have “one voice” in Baghdad.

“We believe in the unity of Kurds, especially in Baghdad,” Talabani said in an interview with a number of journalists, published on Friday.

“If we are united, we will be the strongest bloc in Baghdad. I believe there are opportunities for the Kurds to become united and head to Baghdad with one voice,” he noted.

Talabani further said there would be more chances for the parties to meet and hold talks after the early parliamentary elections in Iraq, scheduled for October 10.

“This election is very important,” he said, adding that the PUK could become the “party of number one by serving people, ending corruption, supporting the local government and freeing business in the Green Zone”.

The word “Green Zone” is used to refer to areas that are under the power of the PUK in Sulaimani and Halabja provinces.

Foil ‘coup’ attempt

Talabani told the journalists that the PUK had become “another party” since July 8, when he and his brother Qubad Talabani, deputy prime minister, ordered changes within the party and several security institutions.

“The PUK has returned to its path,” he said.

“This party has been away from politics for years … I would like you to test the PUK since July 8 and I am sure we will be successful month by month,” he noted.

Talabani said what happened in July was the foiling of a “coup” attempt, in contrast of people saying the changes and reforms within the party was a “coup”.

“There had been a coup inside this party for years … Lahur used the security institutions to carry out the coup we thwarted,” Talabani said.

“Part of the Zanyari [information] agency dominated all organs of this party. We didn’t look like a party for years … No officials in the party have used the agency this way. No officials in the party have used the name of counter-terrorism forces to empower themselves.

“The Zanyari agency had become a place for business recently. It was like a business to enrich and empower some people.”

Arrest of “spy”

PUK media reported in July that a “spy’ had been detained in the house of late president Mam Jalal in Sulaimani.

Talabani confirmed that a “spy” had been detected inside his home in Sulaimani.

“[It] wasn’t a spy of another country or another party, a spy of the Zanyari agency,” he said.

Being poisoned

The PUK co-president also confirmed to the journalists that he had been poisoned in his house.

“Yes, it is true that I was poisoned. I have evidence that I was poisoned inside my house. There is confession too. The drug has been found too,” he noted.

Talabani further said he was arguing whether he would file a lawsuit against those who tried to poison him in a court in the Kurdistan Region or in another country.

“Unfortunately, I was poisoned. There are doctors here who saw me, and there are professors in several countries who saw my electrocardiography,” he added.

“That has never happened before. It is betrayal, not to me but to the PUK and the people of Kurdistan,” he noted.

‘No return’ to before July 8

The PUK co-president noted that there would be “no return” to what happened before July 8.

“July 8th is the day that the PUK returned to the path of Mam Jalal. We can have different views and we can argue with each other,” he said.

“We decided and said stop,” Talabani said, referring to the issues which the party had suffered due to what he says “some people”.

“It is true the stop was some far away, but believe me that harsh stop was necessary.”

Meeting with Lahur Sheikh Jangi

Talabani said there had been meetings but they had not had “a good result”, noting that “it has been over”.

“We have held several meetings, several secret meetings. We have discussed what to do in the next phase … We are not close. None of the meetings have had a good result. I also don’t expect to solve the issues via secret meetings. There are other ways to resolve them,” he added.

Talabani further said he had tried to resolve the issues with Sheikh Jangi, but they remained unresolved.

“I tell you here now too. It’s been over … He is also co-president, but with no power. He handed over all of his powers to me,” he noted.

He also said he had not asked Lahur to leave the Kurdistan Region until the Iraqi parliamentary election ends in October.

Last month, the PUK Politburo called on Lahur to leave the Kurdistan Region until after the Iraqi elections.

The PUK politburo asked Lahur Sheikh Jangi to leave the Region, but he refused to do so, Talabani said, adding that he wanted the PUK leadership to decide on the matter.

“The leadership also told him but it seems has decided not to go. As many 104 out of 124 members of the leadership supported the decision [for him to leave],” he added.

“I also didn’t consider it to be nice to ask Dr. Barham Salih to sign it because he is the president of Iraq, and I also didn’t sign because I didn’t want it to be a personal thing. I haven’t asked for Lahur’s leaving. It was a request of the party for a specific phase. It is his desire whether he leaves or not.”

*This story was updated at 12:35 p.m. EBL time 

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