Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)

The PUK is a political party founded in Iraqi Kurdistan on June 1st, 1976. Its principals are democracy, human rights, and the right to self- determination. The PUK is a member of Socialist International. Mr. Mam Jalal Talabani is the Secretary General of the PUK; his deputies are Mr. Kosrat Rasul Ali and Dr. Barham Ahmad Salih. Mala Bakhtiyar is the chief of the administrative body of the political bureau. Members of the founding committee of the PUK include Mam Jalal Talabani, Nawshirwan Mustafa, Dr. Fouad Masoum, Dr. Kamal Fouad, Adil Murad, Omer Sheik Mus and Abdul-Razaq Faili.

How did the PUK come into existence?

The PUK was founded as a response to the end of the previous Kurdish revolution.
The co-founders,Mam Jalal Talabani, Nawshirwan Mustafa, Dr. Fouad Masoum, Dr. Kamal Fouad, Adil Murad, Omer Sheik Mus and Abdul-Razaq Faili, met on May 22, 1975 at Talitla Restaurant in Damascus, Syria. They convened to discuss the establishment of a new political organization. They subsequently announced the founding statement of the PUK on June 1st, 1975.
On December 17, 1975, the founding committee arranged an inclusive meeting at which the members outlined the fundamentals of the PUK’s activities inside and outside of the country.

Why did the PUK come into existence?

1- As said above, the establishment of PUK was in response to the end of the previous Kurdish revolt, known as the Aylul Revolution, after the Iraqi government withdrew from the peace plan and autonomy accord that had been signed with the Kurdish people on March 11, 1970. The agreement was vacated because the Iraqi government came into agreement with Iran’s Shah during theOPECsummit conference in Algeria on March 6, 1975, which is known as the Algiers Accord.
According to the Algiers Accord, the two countries of Iraq and Iran were to protect the security of their joint border areas, the two countries would not provide assistance to the rebels in those areas, and the two states would be in cooperation to oppose these rebel groups.

Thus, Iran stopped all assistance to and cooperation with Barzani and the leadership of the Kurdish revolution. As a result, the leadership of the Kurdish revolution announced, in a statement read by a Peshmarga commander, the end of the revolution on March 20, 1975 via the Dangi Kurdistan Radio Station. The announcement stated that the Kurdish people and revolutionary Peshmargas would remain free if they surrendered themselves to the Iraqi government.

2- The Iraqi government atrocities following the revolution The Establishment of the PUK was also in response to the Iraqi regime’s practice of atrocities against the Kurdish people, which began with the forcible resettlement of the Kurdish people, including intellectuals and elites, to the middle and southern areas of Iraq.
Within a short period, 30 to 40 thousand people were forcibly expelled to other Iraqi cities including Nasiriyah, Diwaniyah, Samawah, Rumadi and Amarah.
3- Iraq’s Baathification of the Kurdish people The Baath regime began to establish and expand its intelligence and security services as well as its army bases within Kurdistan. These Baathist- led organizations attempted to recruit Kurdish government employees and citizens to become Baathists in a plan called Baathification. This plan was rapidly executed without resistance from the people of Kurdistan. In response, after some months since the halt of the Kurdish revolution, a group of Kurdish revolutionary figures and politicians announced the establishment of the PUK and ignited a new revolution in resistance to these atrocious acts of the Baath regime.

Key Components of the PUK

1- Marx-Lenin Association of Kurdistan

The establishment of this association dates to the time of separation of the political bureau from the Party Democratic Kurdistan (PDK), when the members of that bureau were influenced by Mao Tse-tung's ideology
and the principles of labor socialism. They believed that labor socialism was an appropriate political tenet at this time, following the autonomy accord signed on March 11, 1970. After the integration of these separated members to within the PDK leadership, they began political activities starting with a series of meetings in Baghdad. Eventuallythey decided to form the Marx-Lenin Association of Kurdistan on June 10, 1970.
This association was initially an intellectual group initiated by Mam Jalal in cooperation with Shahab Sheik Nuri, Fazil Mala Mahmoud and Faraidun Abdul-Qadir.

Members of the Leadership of Marx-Lenin Association of Kurdistan were: 1- Shahab Sheik Nuri – Secretary insidethe country
2- Muhammad Mirza Saed – Chief of the Baghdad committee
3- Jaafar Abdul-Wahid- Chief of the Erbil committee
4- Faraidun Abdul-Qadir- Chief of the Kirkuk committee

Between 1970 and 1975, the association witnessed great progress as many people joined, especially from the Kurdistan Students Union and the Kurdistan Youth Union. Later, it its cadres participated in the revolution of the Kurd-Arab war from 1974 to 1975.

At the beginning of 1975, Mam Jalal sent a letter to the leadership of this association, demanding it launch a long-term, armed struggle. The letter also suggested creating a new national and inclusive political organization, an idea that was welcomed by the association.

To discuss the establishment of that new organization, the association held a meeting, lasting two days, in Kelu village.

After the meeting, cadres from the association began to collect and hide weapons. From March 27 to April 5, 1975, cadres from the association returned from mountains to the cities to re-structure their organization. They also suggested sending armed groups to Qaradax, Sharbazher, Koya Plain, Hawraman, Halabja and Shameran.

Thus, the Marx-Lenin Association of Kurdistan became a catalyst for the establishment of the PUK.

In August 1975, the secret organizations that comprised the Marx-Lenin Association of Kurdistan were discovered by the Iraqi government, and Anwar Zorab was arrested in his house in possession of a pistol and a variety of documents and written announcements. Later, the Baath regime launched a campaign to arrest other members of the Marx-Lenin Association of Kurdistan.

As said above, Anwar Zorab, Jabar Farman, Saedun Faili, Daro Sheik Nuri, Anwar Hassan, Khidir Sawiz, Muhammad Mirza Saed and Salam Birzu were arrested in Baghdad.
Also, Sheik Nuri, Ali Bichkol, Othman Nanawa, Hussein Raza, Kamal Ali, Tariq Ahmad, Dr. Jamil, Hamay Ayina, Nuradeen Fatah and Ali Murad were arrested in Sulaimani.
Some members including Shahab Nuri, Jaafar Abdul-Qadir, Omer Saed Ali, Faraidun Abdul-Qadir were also arrested by Iranian forces when they sought to flee to Iran and thereafter to Syria. They were handed over by the Iranian forces to Iraq.

Two more leaders of the association were arrested by Iran and handed over to Iraq in the same year.

On July 11, three of those leaders, Shahab Sheik Nuri, Jaafar Abdul-Wahid and Anwar Zorab, were sentenced to death, and the remaining were sentenced to six years in prison.
The arrest of those leaders severely curtailed the activities of the association.
Thus, Shaswar Jalal, known as Shahid Aram, who was a member of the leadership committee of the association, joined the armed struggle, making an early and essential impact on the revolution.
Shahid Aram re-structured the various organizations within the association and distributed them among the country’s cities. A committee was formed called the Regions’ Committee. This Committee played a vital role in mobilizing the Peshmarga forces and preparing armed groups by recruiting revolutionary officers and former Peshmarga to join the association, thus revitalizing the revolution within the mountainous regions.

2- Socialist Movement

The Socialist Movement was formed as a result of a series of meetings within the cadres of the Aylul Revolution who took refuge in Iran in 1975. The first meeting was held in April 1975, with attendance by Omer Dababa, Ali Askari, Dr. Khalid, Ali Hazhar, Kardo Galali, Ibrahim Ahmad, Jamal Agha, Rasul Mamand, Mala Nasih, Abdul-Rahman Goshini, Milazm Tahir, Ali Wali and Kamal Mihedeen. During that meeting, the attendants formed the Socialist political movement to fight against the Baghdad regime.
The first statement of the committee, which was tasked with preparation of the Socialist Movement, was given in August 1976. This was initiated by Saida Salih Yousifi and some isolated members of both parts of the PDK in cooperation with 72 of its founding members .
On November 6, 1976, Omer Dababa, as a representative of the Socialist Movement, went to Damascus to join the founding committee of the PUK. Thus, the Socialist Movement was the first organization after the Marx- Lenin Association of Kurdistan to join the PUK.

3- Heli Gishti

Beside the two organizations which joined the PUK, there was Another group of revolutionary figures joining the PUK, who kept up the revolutionary struggle but did not affiliate with these two organizations, known as the Heli Gishti (Xati Pan), translating literally as the Wide Line or General Route in English. This group had a deep belief in the ideas of the PUK.

From 1977 and onward, the Heli Gishti witnessed much progress and established many of its own organizations. Members such as Dr. Kamal Fouad, Dr. Fouad Masoum, Adil Murad, Omer Sheik Mus and Abdul-Razaq Faili were senior members of Heli Gishti.

The armed struggle stage

In mid 1976, the PUK started to form Peshmarga forces according to a plan to re-launch armed struggle across the Kurdistan region. This struggle was initially based on a hit-and-run approach, a tactic that later became widespread.
To begin this campaign, Mam Jalal contacted the Marx-Lenin Association and Socialist Movement. On May 23 and 24, 1976, another meeting of the PUK founding committee was arranged in Sham. During the meeting, the beginning of armed struggle was suggested and then approved. As a result, the founding committee dispatched the first Peshmarga groups to Kurdistan.
It also sent telegrams to organizational cells based in the central cities instructing them to send armed groups into the mountains. In addition, the committee informed the cadres who were abroad to return home and thus join the struggle on the ground.
The start of armed struggle by the PUK can be divided into a few stages:
1- Creation of armed groups that would inform the people of a new Kurdish revolution and restore their morale.
2- Launch attacks on the military bases and checkpoints of the invading Iraqi governmental forces based in Kurdistan.
3- Reorganize the Peshmarga forces and armed groups and impose a new military discipline.
On May 25 and 26, 1976, armed groups mobilized in Haji Omeran and headed to Qandil Mountain.
On June 1, 1967, on the occasion of the 1st anniversary of the founding of the PUK, the first armed group, known as the Badinan Group from Syria, was moved to Kurdistan under the supervision of the now late Ibrahim Azo. On June 26, 1976, the PUK revolutionary leadership dispatched the first internal armed group to Suren Mountain in the Halabja area. In July, other armed groups were sent to Qaradax and Sharbazher from Sulaimani City, and they began to proclaim the re-ignition of the Kurdish revolution. Also, in July, another armed group belonging to the Kurdistan Socialist Movement headed to Qandil Mountain and there started conducting armed activities.

In the Fall of the same year, other armed groups were dispatched to Khoshnawati, the Hawler Plain and Koya.
A new leadership group was also formed that was tasked with organizing the newly-formed armed groups. The leadership wrote the bylaws of the armed groups in July 1976, which consisted of five articles. According to the bylaws of these armed groups, each group would consist of eight to twelve armed persons, one of whom was assigned as military chief and another as political chief. A third person was assigned to be deputy of the military chief. The bylaws also delineated the duties and powers of each armed group.
When the new Kurdish revolution was announced in 1976, the Iraqi army possessed 190 thousand soldiers divided over 16 military divisions, which were equipped with technologically advanced and heavy weapons. The Iraqi army had much experience in combating partisan armed activities and had taken control of all of Kurdistan’s mountains.

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