Q&A: Bafel Talabani, President of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan

The PUK leader discusses deteriorating political rivalries within Kurdistan and their impact on both gas development and impending negotiations with Baghdad over oil rights.
PUK President Bafel Talabani in Baghdad on Nov. 28, 2022. (LIZZIE PORTER/Iraq Oil Report)

BAGHDAD - Few individuals are as important to the development of the Kurdistan region's gas sector as Bafel Talabani, the president of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which controls the territory in Sulaimaniya province where the most prolific fields lie.

Talabani is also a central actor in the ongoing struggle between the PUK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), its longtime rival and nominal partner in the Kurdistan region's governance. Their deteriorating relationship has left the regional government hamstrung as it navigates renewed tensions with Baghdad that threaten its ability to continue independently managing its oil and gas sector.

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