Recent tensions over power at the head of the PUK have worried its supporters. Some experts, including Dr. Bajalan, a professor of history at the University of Missouri, have attributed the tensions to a power struggle between the two influential families in the party.
He told Kurdpress about the recent tensions in the PUK and its two co-presidents that "I think that the tension was inevitable. The fact of the matter the co-chair system was always a compromise between two different factions of the PUK loyal to different leaders. Given the way that Kurdish politics works, both leaders needed to maintain control of networks of patronage in order to maintain their influence. However, the PUK always had limited resources and I fight for control over the apparatus of the party seemed to be something that had to happen."
"I don’t think so. I don’t have any special information and it might be true that Turkey is involved in some way or another. However, I don’t think Turkey is the primary reason for the conflict. I think we have to look at this conflict as one driven by personal rivalries," he said about speculations that Turkey played role in the tension over Sheikh Jangi's support to the Kurds in Syria.
About possible changes in the PUK structure in the wake of the recent tensions, the university professor said: "I don’t really know. The fact is that the PUK is a family business. Unless one of the family leaders is willing to become No. 2. I don’t see what restructuring will do to make the situation better."
"This is just another blow to the PUK. While the KDP is also under the domination of a single family, it is more affective at managing family politics. The PUK was set up in the 1970s to counter the Barzani led politics of the KDP. However, rather than building a moderate left alternative to KDP, they have just evolved into a weaker copy of KDP. This is unfortunate," he said about the impact of the PUK tensions over its ties with the co-ruling part of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).