Mala Bakhtiar says PUK is at new stage of conflict and tension
Member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan’s (PUK) High Political Council Mala Bakhtiyar stated on Thursday, August 5, that "recent events have taken the PUK to a new stage of conflict and tension.”

Bakhtiar made the remarks during a meeting with Joshua Lewis, a political officer at the US Consulate General in Erbil.

The meeting was to discuss the current political dynamics within the PUK, which has been rocked over the past month by a public power struggle between co-presidents Lahur Sheikh Jangi and Bafel Talabani.

In a statement posted on his official Facebook page, Bakhtiyar said that Joshua Lewis emphasized that the "PUK is an important partner of the US government” and that it is important for Washington to have positive relations with all of the party’s members.

On July 8, Talabani and his younger brother, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, launched an effort to oust Sheikh Jangi and his allies from positions of power within the PUK, which initially appeared to be successful, with the latter saying he would temporarily step down from the co-presidency while a new leadership structure was put in place.

But on August 2, Sheikh Jangi reversed his stance, vowing to resist the attempt to remove him.

Addressing the ongoing turmoil within the party, Bakhtiyar said that "recent events have taken the PUK to a new stage of conflict and tension.”

"Both sides should respect one another and steps should be taken towards a solution and they should try to calm down the situation,” he added, referring to Talabani and Sheikh Jangi’s camps.

During the meeting, Bakhtiyar also discussed the role the US plays in Iraq, saying that the Strategic Dialogue talks in Washington last month "went well” and hailing US support for "a transparent and healthy election” in October when Iraq holds early parliamentary polls.

Nevertheless, he warned about the consequences of US disengagement from Iraq.

"If Iraq becomes weaker, it will be like Syria,” he said.

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