President Bafel: Oil and gas belong to the people of Kurdistan and Iraq

World 01:29 PM - 2022-12-05
 President Bafel Jalal Talabani, Photo Credit: Iraq Oil Report

President Bafel Jalal Talabani, Photo Credit: Iraq Oil Report

In an interview with Iraq Oil Report’s Lizzie Porter at the Baghdad residence of late President Bafel, President of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Bafel Jalal Talabani, discussed deteriorating political rivalries within Kurdistan and their impact on both gas development and impending negotiations with Baghdad over oil rights.

The PUK President reaffirmed during the interview that the Kurdistan Region’s natural resources do not belong to political parties but to the people.

He also criticized the governing system in the Kurdistan Region. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is currently “very politicized,” he said — “a de facto twin administration because Suli is expected to fund Suli.”

A full transcript of the interview is available below:

Lizzie Porter: I want to ask you firstly about the KDP-PUK relationship, which has been a bit
difficult recently.

Bafel Talabani: Yes.

LP: How have things reached this stage? How did we get to where we are?

BT: You know, the historically the PUK and the KDP, we're different political parties. So we have different agendas, we have different outlooks, we have different ideologies. Even the structures are not very similar.

But what we have seen is a degeneration in the relationship, and also a different kind of M.O. — modus operandi — from the KDP, if I can be honest with you. I'm not sure the genesis of it.

But the reality is that, I like to think that the PUK side has really tried with the KDP. After our troubles in the PUK, we had a really good outreach program. I mean, just in the last year, I've sent my Politburo several times to see theirs; I think they sent their Politburo to Suli once or twice. And with regards to myself, I've been to see Kak Masoud probably 15, 16 times in the last year.

Obviously, you don't get a visit back from Kak Masoud. I've been to see Kak Nechirvan lots of times, been to see Kak Masrur the same. Not really getting any interface back. I think the problems started with the change of government.

LP: Right. So, Masrur —

BT: Yeah, Masrur's government, but not necessarily Masrur. I have to make this clear: not necessarily Masrur. This government is very different from the other governments that we've had.

This government is very politicized. This hasn't had a good effect. Yesterday, actually, by coincidence, I was sitting with one of my ministers in Erbil. And he said, "When I was a director-general I really looked forward to becoming a minister. And in this Cabinet, I became a minister and I, frankly, I wish I hadn't bothered." And it's all because of the extreme politicization of the entire process, and more centralizing of everything. Everything has been more centralized.

If you go back to the boom years in Kurdistan, it was exactly the opposite. There was a very decentralized system of government. Each governorate was competing with the other governorate to make projects and move things forward and accelerate the financial sector. And that was the boom years. And as the opposite has happened, I think the opposite has happened in the region.

So really, I think this politicizing of the government — and there seems to be just a complete and utter lack of urgency to do anything, to do absolutely anything — to make services, to make reforms, to make anything. I mean, we are four years into the Cabinet. It's a caretaker government now. We still have positions in the PUK, in the government that we still haven't been able to fill — positions that we were supposed to fill at the beginning of the government. And I think it's the same for Gorran — I don't want to speak out of turn. I think it's the same for Gorran.

And there seems just like a wall between us and the prime minister. You want to change a director general, you can't. You want to change a deputy minister, you can't. A minister wants to resign? No. It's just very, very, very difficult.

There's a huge discrepancy between what's happening in Erbil, what's happening in Sulaimaniya. The amount of projects that take place in Erbil — all the projects in Sulaimaniya have stopped. The amount of companies that have gone out of business in Sulaimaniya and not in Erbil. The amount of funding that comes to the region, medicines to the hospitals, student pay, salary pay,

Peshmerga services, Peshmerga food, pay, etc, etc. It all happens on one side, and nothing happens on this side.

So, in effect, it's a de facto twin administration, because Suli is expected to fund Suli. And the other areas are expected to fund the other areas. And so this brings me to — again, I'm not a financial expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I like to think I'm quite logical. So we're expected to compete with that side. And there's just physically no way we can. We have a border with Iran. One border with Iran. We have a couple of points, but it's basically one border with Iran.


to read the full interview click here ...

see more

Most read

The News in your pocket


Logo Application

Play Store App Store Logo
The News In Your Pocket