THE PERCEPTION OF TURKMEN IN TURKEY, by Dr Hicran Kazanci

May 26, 2011 at 9:07 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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THE PERCEPTION OF TURKMEN IN TURKEY

 

DR. HİCRAN KAZANCI

Iraqi Turkmen Front Turkey Representative

 

With the dispersement of the Otoman empire many Turkish communities like the Turkmen in Iraq who had been separated from their homelands tried to harmonize with the state they had remained in. The Turkmen have tried to find a place for themselves within the complex structure which is made up of the political history of Iraq plagued with continuous internal political instabilities and wars ever since the state was established.

The Turkmen have always closely monitored Turkey and expected support when confronted with problems. On the other hand, because of the conditions of the state they live in, the Turkmen have been a community which it has been found necessary to monitor and supervise carefully for a long time by Turkey. However, the breaking point in the attitude of Turkey toward the Turkmen in Iraq took place after the war in 1991 and the establishment of the “security zone” in the northern part of the country.

After 1991, Turkey gained the opportunity of establishing close and direct links with the Turkmen in Iraq. The Iraqi Turkmen Front which was established in 1995 with the integration of various Turkmen organizations which had been struggling under different umbrellas to solve the problems of the Turkmen people  in Iraq who had been through a turbulent political process were elevated to a different phase. In the 1990’s when the majority of Iraq was surviving under the tyranny of Saddam Huseyin the Turkmen in Iraq had the opportunity to organize in Northern Iraq mainly in Arbil. However, the Turkmen who had organized themselves in order to fight the Saddam Huseyin regime like the other Iraqi opponents were obliged to fight for their very existence in Northern Iraq. That is why most of the Turkmen’s political causes in the 1990’s had be executed on two fronts, against the Kurdish parties in Northern Iraq and Saddam’s regime in Baghdad. In fact the conditions in Iraq made the security dimensions become the center of the stage rather than the civil and political dimensions of the organizing of the Turkmen.  At a later time the gaps in the steps taken and the immaturity of the political structure would later make things problematic for the Turkmen.

After the invasion ofIraq, the Turkmen faced a new situation. They tried to participate in the changing process of the political authority in Baghdad, however, because of their organizational problems in addition to the inability to apply an appropriate policy among the opponent groups caused their exclusion in a major way. During this process the General Headquarters of ITF which had executed its political and organizational duties from Arbil for many years moved to Kirkuk. Efforts to include the Turkmen remaining in the regions under the control of Saddam Huseyin into the organization had just been started. However, if a self criticism needs to be made then truth be told and let us admit that the ITF did not manage this process very well. The reason why the organization and the people were unable to achieve the success expected from them was caused by such issues as difficulties in reaching the Turkmen in Mosul and Diyala, the inability of the organization to overcome the clan and sect related and political problems and the feelings of abandonment felt in Arbil. Still, the Turkish public has been sensitive for a long time since 2003 regarding issues concerning Turkmen people. Turkey reacted strongly when the US started operations at Telafar; during the stressful days in Kirkuk, marches to support Kirkuk were carried out in Turkey. However, the environment in Iraqis such that policies are executed mostly based on identity and in this environment the Turkmen were unable to distance themselves from this implementation. It is natural, in fact compulsory to execute a national cause based on identity. However,  when a completely reactionary stance is directed under every condition at one of the ethnic groups in Iraq, the inability to calculate strategic interests well has been problematic for the Turkmen.

The ITF has experienced numerous problems within its own organization in Iraq and has been unable to obtain the expected political successes and has also unfortunately limited the groups it could have reached in Turkey. In an environment where ITF could have had the full support of Turkey and the political parties it has focused only on the party line of some parties and limited the support of the grassroots in Turkey. This situation has caused the ITF to reduce its relations to some political parties which has caused both the political circles and the Turkish press to lose interest in the Turkmen Cause.

In fact, the developments in Iraq show that the nature of politics devolves through alliances and wide ranged relations. That is why ITF must possess a more efficient political stance which provides initiatives to all segments of Turkmen, keeps a steady balance between the Kurds and Arabs in Iraq, far from any slogans, realistic. The ITF should transform into a security oriented party organization which spreads to the grassroots when civilian politics are not strong enough, which raises its own leaders and has a say in social, political, strategic and economy affairs. The ITF which has held 5 major Assembly meetings since its establishment needs to renovate itself which is the common outlook of all Turkmen who have dealt with politics in Iraq for some time. For this reason it is expected that ITF proceeds into a reform process within a short time. After all, with its faults and successes, the largest, comprehensive and successful Turkmen political organization established and developed by Turkmen is the ITF. With the reforms planned within the ITF it will be considered a major success that the election success maintained with the number of members of parliament elected in the 2010 elections are reflected in the political equation of the country as a whole. In addition, the success of this reform action will be determined by how well the Turkmen can determine their targets and strategies, whether they can maintain a balance between all the groups in Iraq, whether they can be represented in a more equal way in the party in the Turkmeneli geographical area, how successfully it can pull people who have remained outside politics so far for one reason or another and how well they can pull youth and women into active politics. Of course this situation is of interest basically to the Turkmen. However, it is also a fact that the public interest in Turkey for the Turkmen in issues regarding Iraq have decreased lately. Whereas this interest would be a major moral boost for the Turkmen while they are undergoing a restructuring process.

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