Iranian influence played a substantial role in bringing two major Kurdish parties in Sulaymaniyah closer when they signed a recent agreement.
Well-placed sources say that last week’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Change Movement (Gorran) agreement on how to run the local administration in the Kurdistan Region’s second city Sulaymaniyah, came with the blessing of Iran, an influential player in Kurdish politics, especially Sulaymaniyah.
“For several months after the Kurdistan local elections, Iran asked the PUK to agree to sharing power in the city with Gorran. Since the recent Islamic State attacks on the region, they have reiterated the request.”
Gorran was formed in 2009, when some of the long-time leaders of the PUK broke away to create the new movement.
The relationship between the two parties in Sulaymaniyah, seen as a strong hold for both, has been riven by tension.
The anonymous source said that since the singing of the agreement between the rival parties, an Iranian delegation has visited the leader of Gorran, Nawshirwan Mustafa, twice in Sulaymaniyah, thanking him for signing the deal.
The PUK has traditionally being seen as the closest ally of Iran in the Kurdistan Region and its leaders and the former Iraqi president Jalal Talabani have always maintained strong ties with Iranian officials.
The source also stated that Iranian support for the PUK- Gorran agreement protects Tehran’s leverage in the Kurdistan Region, as it was being eroded by the PUK’s perceived weakness following the emergence of the new movement.
“In the past the PUK and Gorran had a lot of problems, but as most of the PUK and Gorran leaders are essentially from one school of thought, it wasn’t too difficult for them to sign an agreement and get closer,” said PUK official Goran Azad.
Rebwar Karim, a Kurdish political commentator, told BasNews of the extent of outside maneuvering on Kurdish politics.
“This new agreement between the PUK and Gorran is a result of external influence, just like all agreements and disagreements between Kurdish political parties in the past,” said Karim.