Iraqi Turkmen: On the Forefront of Fighting ISIS, Yet Marginalized
Photo Courtesy of: Victoria Villalobos 2008 @Flickr
According to Dr Ali Akram Al-Bayati, Chief of the Turkmen Rescue Foundation, Turkmen suffer disproportionately from ISIS’ advances in Iraq, while being at the forefront of fighting off the terrorists’ attacks. At the same time the Turkmen continue to be marginalized in Iraq – a situation that, according to Dr Al-Bayati, could be addressed through the formation of a Turkmen region around Mosul.
Below is a statement published by the Turkmen Rescue Foundation:
Who is responsible for the marginalization of Iraqi Turkmen again?
I do not want to go back to the history a lot because the suffering of today is much more than the pain of the past.
One third of Turkmen (the third ethnicity in Iraq, with the ratio ranging from 7% to 10% of Iraq's population) have lost their residence as a result of the invasion by ISIS, while other parts of Turkmen cities like Kirkuk, Tuz khurmatoo and Qaratappa which are now under the control of the local or central government, are also suffering from the continuous targeting of the Turkmen by bomb explosions, assassinations, kidnapping, or other types of assaults.
Mosul is the second largest province inhabited by Turkmen in Iraq, where the Turkmen represent approximately 40% of the population living in the Nineveh Plain and Tall Afar and Mosul. The Turkmen had 6 out of 13 members of Mosul’s regional council in the last local elections, which is indicative of the Turkmen’s population [share] and percentage in the city.
Today, after preparations for the liberation of Mosul Province and the movement of local, regional and international powers to participate in this important and decisive battle to eliminate ISIS finally from Iraq, we can see that there is an obvious marginalization of Turkmen, which now have approximately ten thousand fighters in the official forces, in both the Ministries of Defence and Interior, as well as in the popular crowd (or Hashd al shaabi), most of which participated in the most aggressive battles against ISIS and defended Iraq and [assisted with the] liberation of Iraqi territories in Amerli, Tikrit, Beiji, Samarra and Tharthar, as well as in Makhul and Hamrin. The Turkmen lost approximately 600 martyrs in these battles in the defence of their homeland.
It is very strange that while some are calling for the involvement of foreign fighters in the liberation of this province, the Turkmen have been excluded. They are trying to forget that Turkmen are those who live on more than one-third of the province, and that it was the people of Tal Afar who, since 2003 till 2014, were fighting terrorism and al-Qaeda, with the number of martyrs in the city having reached 4,000.
The indicative thing is that all are trying to impose a reality and process sectarian division under the pretext of the new regions and again by claiming to establish mini-states in Iraq.
Here we would like to recall that the Turkmen are the third component in Iraq and according to the Constitution, we have the rights, just like Kurds and Arabs, to establish a new region, or to establish their provinces legally and constitutionally.
We believe that the only safe and peaceful future for Turkmen in Mosul is to live together with the minorities, as we have peaceful history with them. We would like to emphasize that if a Sunni region is established, as well as a Kurdish region, the international community, the Iraqi parliament and all decision-makers in Iraq should also support and give to the Turkmen and [other] minorities in Northern Iraq this right to establish a new region in Mosul, including three governorates (Telllafer, Sinjar and Nineveh plain).
Regarding Kirkuk, Tuz khurmatoo and Qaratappa: the Turkmen geographically and legally have the right to form three provinces in this region and it could be united in one region and live together and share the authorities with all other people in these mixed areas.
Dr Ali Akram Al Bayati
Chief of Turkmen Rescue Foundation