A new voice from the Iraqi Turkmen

December 28, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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A new voice from the Iraqi Turkmen
28 December 2010, Tuesday

Until recently, the Iraqi Turkmen have been a community “far” from being seen yet constantly on the agenda of Turkey.
The Iraqi Turkmen are a community which has been constantly on the agenda of Turkey until recently, yet now seems to be quite “far” away. There are various opinions on the number of Turkmen residing in Iraq. However, when looking at the results laid down by the last two elections, it can be said that the numbers of the official thesis alleged by Turkey in the past have not been quite realistic.

We have no argument with figures, however if a rough estimate were to be made, it seems that the number of the Turkmen population living in the region is way over one million. In the past, the Turkmen have always been at the focal point of the politics dealing with Iraq. However, rather than becoming stronger actors, this situation made them grow weaker by the  day.


Hicran Kazancı represents the younger generation of the Turkmen Front. He started his post as Ankara representative a few months ago. We had an intimate interview with him in the Ankara office of the Front.

If I were to say that I was not surprised to meet a portrait not hesitating to criticize the mistakes made in the past and Turkey, a courageous man with a vision, I would be telling an untruth. The reason for this is that until now, the names which have been representing the Turkmen Front and the policies of the Front in general have not gone beyond empty rhetoric and an emotional bond with Ankara.

Hicran Kazancı answers a stereotype question, ‘What does Turkey do regarding your case, are they sufficiently concerned’ with a mischievous reply: ‘Turkey is too much concerned with us!’


There is no doubt that the parenthesis of this reply contains plenty and in a way it summarizes the mistakes of Ankara regarding Turkmen. The price of seeing the Turkmen as a unique element has not only been high for Turkey but for them as well. In addition to not being able to establish a healthy relationship with the Iraqi central government, they also had difficulties finding a place for themselves in the changing balances after the occupation. The policies which left out the Iraqi Kurds and expelled the Turkmen outside the system and which were continued persistently until 2005 also weakened Ankara’s hand. It is fortunate that the application of these mistakes was forsaken towards the end of 2005 and it was decided to adopt a state policy of entering into dialogue with all the elements living the region. As a result these issues were discussed in the National Security Board meetings of 2006 and 2007 and stated in the final declarations.

Iraqi Turkmen Front Ankara Representative Hicran Kazancı is a name that is aware of what goes on in Northern Iraq and can analyze the equilibrium in the region very well. Here is his assessment and criticism regarding Kirkuk which is a sensitive subject to the Turkmen:

‘The Turkmen were unable to establish a connection with the actors in Iraqi politics. Between 1991-2002 we always spoke about a Turkmeneli region which included Kirkuk. Until 2003 our slogan was “Erbil is Turk and shall remain Turk”. Never mind about gaining Arbil, we started to think about saving Kirkuk. This was the result of strategy error. In the meeting which took place in 2003 in Selahaddin between American representative Zalmay Halilzad and Saddam opponents, our representative made another mistake. When our people completely rejected the recognition of a Kurdish region the Turkmen were completely ousted from the process. For example they could have said, “we recognize the region north of the 36th Parallel”. Today, just for this reason, we do not know what sort of strategy to produce regarding the status of Kirkuk. If we had been a part of the decision process on that day we would have saved Kirkuk today. ‘

This viewpoint seemed very sound and striking to me. It gives hope for the future.

Nasuhi Güngör


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