lundi 4 février 2013

Where Do The Turkmen Stand In Political Polarization In Iraq?

Where Do The Turkmen Stand In Political Polarization In Iraq?

Bilgay Duman, ORSAM Middle East Specialist

In the recent period, the politics in Iraq has centered on a new polarization. Even though its lines are not quite clear, the struggle between the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his opponents/rivals seems to come to light. Especially the meeting held in Arbil, on 29th April can be considered as one of the most important indicators of this. In the meeting, which is suggested to have been held upon the call of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and with the participation of the KRG leader Massoud Barzani, who is known to oppose to Nouri al-Maliki, the Sadr Group leader Muqtada al-Sadr, Iraqi Parliament Speaker and among the Iraqiya List leaders Usama al-Nujeyfi, Iraqiya List leader Ayad Allawi, and Jalal Talabani, it was stated that the last
political tension in Iran was talked and solutions were proposed for the problems. The fact that Barzani, who accused Maliki for being “dictator” and Sadr had a separate talk before the meeting also drew the attention. 

The fact that those groups headed by the aforesaid two leaders are in the “key position of the governments in Iraq”, including the government formed after the 2010 elections, increased the importance of this talks still more. Despite the fact that the “National Conference”, which is planned to be held to overcome the crisis within the government and to be held with the participation of all political groups in Iraq, have not been somehow carried out, it is extremely important to hold such a conference.

On the other hand, the statement suggesting that the support for Nouri al-Maliki still continues, made during the press conference with broad participation, where the State of Law Coalition led by Maliki and Sadr Group and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq came together, and which was headed by Ibrahim al-Jafari who is the former Iraqi Prime Minister and the Head of Iraqi National Reform Movement, shows the polarization in Iraq. Nevertheless, it is known that Nouri al-Maliki is in search of proponents both among Shia, Sunni and Kurd groups. In the statement made by the State of Law Coalition, Sadr group's mediating to eliminate the problems within the government in Arbil was received favorably. This statement is interpreted as; Maliki does not want to lose the Sadr group against all odds.

At this point, it would be better to look at the local politics as well. In this respect, the developments taking place in Mosul and Kirkuk come to the forefront. First of all, it is known that Nouri al-Maliki started to get in touch with the groups which split from Hadba following the splits taking place in the Hadba list bringing the Sunni groups together in Mosul after the members of Kurdish List in Mosul turned back to assembly as a result of their coming to terms with the Nujayfi group. Especially his talking to Yawer Group, which is one of the most influential groups in Mosul, and to Ghazi Ajil al-Yawer grabs the attention. Likewise, it is also suggested that the Sunni Arab groups, thinking that they are marginalized after the close relations between the Turkmen and Kurds in Kirkuk, also started to become closer with Maliki. On the other hand, it is also put forward that there is a conflict between KDP and PUK (Kurdish parties) in Kirkuk, and that PUK, which wants to take advantage from it because of the problems that the KDP leader Massoud Barzani has been going through with Maliki, winks at Maliki.

It is also important to discuss where the Turkmen stand in such a chaotic atmosphere taking place in Iraq. First of all, the fact that 10 Turkmen deputies within Iraqi parliament are found within different political groups despite the fact that they create a group in the parliament prevents them from acting independently. It is seen that the most independent group here is the Iraqi Turkmen Front with 16 deputies. Attributing this situation only to the attitude of the Iraqi Turkmen Front can also be considered as a wrong remark. Because despite the fact that the Iraqi Turkmen Front is found within Iraqiya List; it is known that they are kept out of decision-making processes in Iraqiya, and thus they have to take independent decisions. On the other hand, the other Turkmen deputies are also found within different political groups. For instance, while Abbas al-Bayati is in the State of Law Coalition; Hasan Vahap is within the Badr Group. Therefore, it is observed that the Turkmen deputies within major political organizations act in accordance with their own organizational decisions and actions. 

Thus, it can also be suggested that the effects of political polarization in Iraq are indirectly observed among the Turkmen as well. Because in the statement that Ershad Salihi, Head of the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) and Member of the Iraqi Parliament from Kirkuk, made to the Turkmeneli TV, he indicated that the meetings should not be used as a political bargain, and thus he also indicated his worries through this statement. 

Because the Turkmen have been excluded from the decision-making and political bargain processes in Iraq so far. Even though positive developments have taken place for the Turkmen for about a year, the Turkmen cannot be effective in the Iraqi politics and they have been forced to take the consequences of political bargains between the major groups. In this respect, it can be considered that Turkmens' striving to create an influence through local politics in an environment, where it is not possible for them to be influential due to the general policy, would be a more effective strategy. Being included in the process by assuming role in solving the problems especially in Mosul and Kirkuk might be effective in terms of general policy.

5 May 2012

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