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US’s Brett McGurk arrives in Sulaimani amid PUK's intra-party tensions

  2021-07-16  | 
 Zhyan News Network
File Photo - US’s White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk speaks during a news conference at the US Embassy Baghdad, Iraq, June 7, 20217. Photo by AP Photo/Hadi Mizban
 Zhyan News Network

SULAIMANI – Brett McGurk, the White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, arrived in Sulaimani on Friday (July 16) and is supposed to bring up the recent internal tensions between the co-chairs of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) while he meets with the party's senior officials. 

Previous being the US envoy for the global coalition against Islamic State (ISIS) militant group, McGurk is known for his opposition to Turkey's policies in the region and has come under vitriol by the Turkish authorities for his supports to the Syrian Kurds.

McGurk has spoken with the officials in Baghdad and senior leaders within the ruling Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and called on them not to interfere with the PUK’s intra-tensions, anonymous sources have told Zhyan News Network. 

The relations between the PUK Co-Presidents, Lahur Sheikh Jangi and Bafel Talabani who are cousins, have broken down to all-time lows after the latter unilaterally changed top local counterterrorism and intelligence chiefs with his loyalists.

The tensions seem subdued for the time being as the PUK Politburo met yesterday and issued several decisions to restore calm, with the attendance of Sheikh Jangi and Talabani. 

Turkey tried to seized upon the PUK’s tensions to open some bases for its intelligence agency, National Intelligence Organization, likewise its dozens of others in Erbil and Duhok governorates, according to well-informed sources.

Turkey is in the midst of an extensive cross-border operation within the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). 

The PKK is an armed Kurdish opposition group that ahs launched a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish authorities, calling for Kurds' cultural rights in Turkey. 

Sheikh Jangi has come under fire by the Turkish authorities, especially Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for its relations with the Syrian Kurds, who are ideologically close to the Syrian Kurds. 

"Erdogan previously told Khamis al-Khanjar (a Sunni leader) that I have ended up," Sheikh Jangi said during a meeting with the families of the PUK's martyrs. 

The US has thwarted the plot and did not accept the Turkish scheme, the sources said, on condition of anonymity. 

The KDP enjoys close relations with Ankara. 

Anonymous sources also told Zhyan that the US had told the PUK authorities that the prevention and abuses against media and the freedom of the press and expression are “red lines” and there should be no attacks against media outlets and journalists. 

On Tuesday evening, a security force of about 50 gunmen raided iPLUS Media Corporation building, detained and hurt its employees for about an hour while they were working under experimental broadcasting. The armed force seized CCTV cameras, broke and took out the channel's equipment.

Three other media outlets — Zhyan News Network, Chaw, and Ajans- were also told by the security force to shutter their gates, reported by Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) citing local sources. 

Sheikh Jangi is also the head of the joint electoral list between the PUK and the Change Movement (Gorran) for the Iraqi upcoming early elections slated for October 10.

(Zhyan English)