The two parties have always wrangled over who controls the oil-rich territories in the region. Insiders say it is often discussed in private meetings but not necessarily mentioned in public.
And basically what some observers say this scrap comes down to, is that the KDP did a deal with the Iraqi government in Baghdad over Kirkuk’s oil, even though Kirkuk is generally considered as part of the PUK’s realm of influence.
The deal involved additional facilities to refine Iraqi Kurdish oil, but the refinery was to be located in Erbil, which the KDP controls. The PUK didn’t like this because it felt that additional refinery facilities for oil from Kirkuk should benefit the people in its territories.
“One of the points in minutes of a meeting signed by Iraq’s minister of oil and the governor of Kirkuk in January 2017 was that a new refinery should be created in Kirkuk,” Asso Mamand, a senior member of the PUK, responsible for the party’s activities in Kirkuk, told NIQASH. “But the oil ministry just did what was best for it and ignored Kirkuk’s interests.”
Another PUK politician said that neither Baghdad nor the KDP in Erbil seemed to want to consider the needs of the people of Kirkuk.
In a press conference in mid-March, Kirkuk’s governor, Najmuddin Karim said his authority would be discussing the minutes of the January meeting with authorities in Baghdad again.
However the armed men who entered the offices of North Oil had nothing to do with any internal political conflict between Kurdish parties, the KDP’s Mamand insisted.