vendredi 13 décembre 2013

Ankara Extends Full Support to Iraqi Turkmen

Ankara Extends Full Support to Iraqi Turkmen
Hasan Kanbolat, ORSAM Director

On the night of Dec. 6 I met with Erşad Salihi, Kirkuk deputy and leader of the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITC), and the ITC's executive board members in Ankara.

The weather was freezing. Salihi was treating himself to a nice dinner after some successful talks. The meeting between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ITC delegation, as well as the joint press conference with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, had pleased the ITC delegation. Salihi expressed his relief at Ankara's acknowledgement of his position as leader of the Turkmen. As a result, he raised the issue of the Iraqi parliamentary elections to be held on April 30, 2014. He received strong support from Ankara before the general elections in Iraq.

The Iraqi Turkmen are a priority for Turkey's foreign policy. Turkey pays great attention to the ITC, the most renowned and respected political representative of the Iraqi Turkmen. These actions further support and confirm Iraq's independence and territorial integrity.

On Dec. 5, Erdoğan received the ITC delegation headed by Salihi in his office at the İstanbul Haliç Convention Center. Erdoğan and Salihi had met before, in 2006. This meeting, after seven years, was quite amiable. The prime minister, noting that the upcoming elections in Iraq are extremely important for domestic political considerations as well as regional stability, underlined that the ITC leadership also has a great responsibility in this process. Erdoğan stressed that the protection of the rights and interests of the Turkmen in Iraq is an integral part of Turkey's Iraqi policy and that he raised this issue in their meetings and talks with the central Iraqi government as well as the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Davutoğlu met with Salihi and the ITC's board members on Dec. 6 at the Foreign Ministry. Speaking at the joint press conference held after the meeting, Davutoğlu stressed that the Turkmen are one of the major communities of Iraq under the national constitution and international legal agreements. He further underlined that it is important for the Turkmen to be able to speak their language and exercise their fundamental rights in the fields of education and local administration. The foreign minister also said the Turkmen have a crucial position in Iraq and that their interaction with other ethnic groups is vitally important, as it will contribute to the well-being of Iraq as a whole.

There are ongoing disputes over Turkmen-populated areas from Diyala province to Mosul. Despite these issues, the Turkmen have no armed forces or militias to protect themselves and their lands. This is why the Turkmen are the most frequently victimized community in Iraq. There have been many attacks against the Turkmen in Kirkuk, Tal Afar, Mosul and Tuz Khormato, as well as other predominantly Turkmen areas, and Turkmen leaders, politicians and businessmen have been assassinated. In June, ITC Deputy Chairman Ali Haşim Muhtaroğlu was killed in an attack. In August, an attack was staged against ITC Mosul Province Chairman Muhammed Ali Efendioğlu and Mosul Provincial Assembly member Lokman Necim.

On Dec. 1, an attack took place on Salihi's convoy in Tuz Khormato. These attacks show that the Turkmen have become the direct targets of armed assaults. The attacks directed against Turkmen leaders this year also show that the violence against them has become systematic. This violence seeks to minimize the political and demographic impact and influence of the Turkmen community in Iraq.

10 December 2013

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