Iraqi Turkmen leader slams Turkic states' lack of support
While thanking the Turkish government for their support, Iraqi Turkmen leader Ersad Salihi slammed the Turkish opposition, Central Asian states and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus for a lack of support.
World Bulletin / News Desk
Iraqi Turkmen Front leader Ersad Salihi has thanked Turkey for its support after the political crisis in Iraq has left the three million-strong community in a three-way cross-fire between the Baghdad-based central government, the Erbil-based Iraqi Kurdish government and rebels belonging to the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
After meeting with Turkey's Foreign Affairs undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu in Ankara, Ersad Salihi praised the Turkish government for looking out for the Iraqi Turkmen population, amid criticism from Turkey's right-wing opposition leader Devlet Bahceli that the government was not doing enough to help the ethnic Turkmens of Iraq. Brushing the National Movement Party (MHP) leader's criticism off as being nothing more than the uttering of nationalistic slogans, Salihi accused the Turkish opposition of not doing anything to help their cause and using the situation as a mere propaganda tool for the upcoming Turkish presidential elections.
Salihi also condemned Turkic states in Central Asia for not helping their fellow Turks in Iraq. Blaming Azerbaijan and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) for their silence particularly, Salihi said: “The only country supporting us is Turkey. Despite all our pleas and requests sent via Ankara, the Turkic republics in Central Asia have not supported us, nor have they brought our case to the international arena.”
Referring to the war between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots over four decades ago, Salihi added: “Back in 1974, we told our ethnic brethren in Cyprus that we were ready to fight alongside the Turkish Cypriots,” expressing his disappointment with the TRNC government.
The Iraqi Turkmens, who after Arabs and Kurds make up Iraq's third largest ethnic group, have seen their main city Kirkuk fall under the occupation of the Kurdish Peshmerga (armed forces) ever since ISIL rebels and aligned Sunni Arab tribes overran Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, on June 10.
While the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government of northern Iraq insists that it has only occupied the oil-rich city of Kirkuk as a precaution against advancing ISIL rebels, Iraqi Turkmens, who have made a demand for their own autonomy in the city, fear that the Kurdish forces are there to stay.
As Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani pushes for a referendum in northern Iraqi for independence, the Iraqi Turkmen Front has called to arms to defend themselves against ISIL attacks. A number of Iraqi Turkmens have already fled Tuzkhormatu, Tal Afar and Mosul after the ISIL conducted massacres in the region.