Kurds alter cultural and linguistic fabric of non-Kurdish areas around Iraq’s Mosul

April 21, 2011 at 8:49 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment

Kurds alter cultural and linguistic fabric of non-Kurdish areas around Iraq’s Mosul

By Samer Saeed

Azzaman, April 19, 2011

There are grave concerns inMosul, the provincial capital ofNineveh, that Kurds are on their way to add the provincial districts and villages they control to their dominions.

A statement, issued by the Unified National Trend, a political faction in the city, said the Kurds, relying on their heavily armed militias, were treating the provincial areas under their control as part of Kurdish territory.

The statement, signed by the group’s leader, Nourideen al-Hayali, said the Kurds were even trying to alter the linguistic and cultural character of the provincial districts they occupied shortly after the 2003-U.S. invasion ofIraq.

Most of the small towns and villages to the north andnorth westofMosul, which administratively are an integral part ofNinevehProvince, are now under Kurdish militia occupation.

The administration of education, health and local government in these areas is a prerogative ofNinevehProvinceand the provincial council inMosul.

But the Kurds are reported to be seizing the opportunity of the absence of Iraqi troops and security forces to spread their cultural domination of the areas under their control.

Hayali claimed in his statement that the Kurds were forcing their language as the medium of instruction in schools in districts and villages where Arabs, Turkmen or Syriac-speaking Iraqi Christians are the majority.

He said more than 200 school which used to offer courses and programs in Arabic have been seized, and their teaching staff replaced by Kurdish-speaking instructors.

He cited Baashiqa, a predominantly Syriac-speaking Christians, and its environs, where he said more than a 1000 schools have been forced to switch to Kurdish.


Effects of U.K. and U.S. Unilateralism on the Turkmens of Iraq since World War I.

December 4, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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 The discrimination against the Turkmens in Iraq, their marginalization, the denial of their historical role and achievements in Iraq and the denial of their true representation as the third largest ethnic group in Iraq have been initiated by the British colonial authorities at the end of World War I in 1918, for geopolitical and economical reasons.” Dr. Hassan Aydinli – 15th December 2007


Hereunder is an excerpt from Dr. Hassan Aydinli’s paper – 15th December 2007 at  Madrid Forum for a Just Peace in the Middle East


Effects of U.K. and U.S. Unilateralism on the Turkmens of Iraq since World War I.

As an Iraqi Turkmen I would like to bring to your attention the plight of the 3 million Turkmens of Iraq who are not only the victims of US-UK imperialism but also of Kurdish hegemony in the north of Iraq since 10th April 2003.

The 3 million Turkmens of Iraq represent 12% of the Iraqi population; they have lived in Iraq for over a millennium. The last reliable census data from Iraq, gathered in 1957, identifies the Turkmens as the third largest ethnic group in Iraq. In the north of Iraq Turkmens represent the second main ethnic group.

Iraqi Turkmens are the descendants of the Turkic Oghuz tribes of Central Asia who migrated in successive waves between the 7th and the 13th century to the west of their territories up to Anatolia and Mesopotamia (Iraq), they settled mainly in the northern and central regions of Iraq, in a diagonal strip of land stretching from the Syrian and Turkish border areas around the city of Tal Afar in the north-west of Iraq to the town of Mendeli on the Iranian border in Central Iraq, they are found principally in the following provinces: Kerkuk, Mosul, Erbil, Salah-al-Din, Diyala, Kut and Baghdad. Since many centuries the largest Turkmen population concentration is in the city of Kerkuk which is considered by the Iraqi Turkmens as their capital city and main cultural centre.

The Turkmen region in Iraq, called TURKMENELI, lies between the region inhabited by Kurds in the north and the region inhabited by Arabs in the South.

Turkmens have largely contributed to the political and cultural life in Iraq during the Abbassids, Seljuks, Atabegs, etc. They established their own states and Emirates in Iraq and ruled the country or parts of it for nine centuries (from 1055 to 1918). Iraqi Turkmen communities rose to prominence as administrators, merchants and politicians in particular under the Ottoman Empire.

The discrimination against the Turkmens in Iraq, their marginalization, the denial of their historical role and achievements in Iraq and the denial of their true representation as the third largest ethnic group in Iraq have been initiated by the British colonial authorities at the end of World War I in 1918, for geopolitical and economical reasons.

The British purposely underestimated the number of Turkmens to facilitate the separation of ‘Mosul Vilayat’ or ‘Mosul Province’ (now representing five Iraqi provinces: Mosul, Kerkuk, Erbil, Duhok and Suleymaniya) from the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) in order to control the huge oil reserves of Kerkuk which was then mainly inhabited by Turkmens.

Since Iraq became an independent state in 1921 the successive Iraqi governments have continued to undermine and marginalize the Turkmens for the same geopolitical and economical reasons. Under the previous regime the Turkmens have been victims of discrimination, deportation and property confiscation.

Today, four and a half years after the invasion and the occupation of Iraq by the US-UK forces, the 3 million Turkmens of Iraq continue to suffer from discrimination, marginalisation, ill-treatment and basic human rights violations and their ordeal continues as they are caught between hammer and anvil.

Indeed, the Turkmens continue to be constitutionally discriminated, institutionally marginalized and ill-treated as a community in Iraq by the political parties, who have been promoted and brought into power by the occupation forces.

The Kurdish political parties and their allies, who are dominating Iraqi politics since the occupation of the country in April 2003, have agreed – for strictly partisan reasons – to continue suppressing the Turkmens’ rights and their true representation in Iraq.

They continue denying the Turkmens the constitutional rights to be recognised as a main community of the country with rights equal to those granted to the Arabs and the Kurds in the new constitution of Iraq.

Since the occupation of Iraq in April 2003 the foreign occupation authorities administered the country by decree then by a “Provisional Administration Law” which was not approved by the Iraqi people. It became a Constitutional Law on 15th October 2005.

The contents and approval method of this Constitutional Law are debatable. The mistakes which had been made in the Provisional Administration Law regarding the Turkmens have been repeated in the new “permanent” constitution and the rights of the Turkmens continue to be openly usurped.

The Turkmens reject the new regime’s discriminatory policy, they have called for the boycott of the parliamentary elections under the occupation, and they have called to vote against the new constitution written under the occupation.

For all the above mentioned reasons the Turkmens have persistently called for the revision of the new Iraqi Constitution in order to obtain the constitutional rights for their community to be recognised as the third main community of Iraq as well as for the recognition of the Turkmen citizens’ basic human rights in Iraq as citizens of a multi-ethnic country with rights equal to those recognised to the Arabs and the Kurds.

The Turkmens, in addition to their share of misery and humiliation resulting from the foreign occupation of Iraq, also suffer since this occupation and because of it from the Kurdish hegemony in the north of Iraq and from the occupation and kurdification of their towns and cities by the Kurdish militias who are behaving as conquerors.

In order to change the demographics of Kerkuk in view of the upcoming census and referendum called for by Article 140 of the new constitution, the Kurdish political parties of Messrs Talabani and Barzani have organized the transport of over 600.000 Kurds from the Kurdish autonomous region as well as from neighbouring Syria, Turkey and Iran to Kerkuk. These ‘newly arrived Kurds’ have been given financial support and incentives, they have been issued forged identification cards and documents showing them as Kurds originally from Kerkuk who had been forcefully displaced by the former regime.

I would like to point out that the Swedish authorities have accused the Iraqi Embassy in Stockholm early this year of having issued some 26. 000 forged Iraqi passport to citizens from Syria, Turkey and Iran, similar accusations have been made in Vienna, Damascus, etc.

These cheatings and falsifications of the official records concerning the forcibly displaced Kurds from Kerkuk and the issuing of forged identification cards to these 600.000 Kurds newly installed in Kerkuk have been facilitated by the fact that the Kurdish militias (Peshmerga) looted the Population and the Property Registration Offices of Kerkuk and confiscated the archives and records on the first day they entered and occupied Kerkuk on the 10th April 2003, one day after the occupation of Baghdad, with the blessings of the U.S. occupier and as a reward for their collaboration during the invasion of Iraq.

In this regard it is important to note that:

– according to the ration card data base, considered by the United Nations to be a reliable source for information on the Iraqi population, some 12.000 families (Turkmens and Kurds) were expelled from Kerkuk under the previous regime, one third being Turkmens.

– until April 10, 2003, Kerkuk had 810.000 inhabitants and that today, after four and a half years of Kurdish control over Kerkuk its population is estimated to be over 1.5 million inhabitants, and that ALL the newcomers are Kurds.

Today, citing ‘Article 140’ of the constitution, the Kurds insist to start the ‘normalization process’ in Kerkuk Province. But their interpretation of ‘normalization’ is to establish Kurdish hegemony in a region of Iraq which is inhabited by Turkmens, Arabs and Kurds and which has never been part of ‘Kurdistan’. This is in order to implement the American-Israeli plan to divide Iraq in three regions, it has nothing to do with democracy or justice, it is simply a way to steal Iraq’s oil from the Iraqi people by allowing their Kurdish ‘allies’ to annex Kerkuk to the Kurdish Autonomous Region, and subsequently proclaim their independence, in view of the creation of a “Greater Kurdistan”, following the example of the Zionists plans for a “Greater Israel”.

These unfair and illegal methods practiced by the Kurds in Kerkuk will lead to disaster if they are not stopped and remedied before a census which will decide on the fate of the city.

It should also be noted that the CIA and the U.S. Special Forces armed and supported thousands of Kurdish Peshmerga troops to fight against the Iraqi forces in 2003 and that British Special Forces and the Israeli Mossad are training the Kurdish commandos in the north of Iraq.

Turkmens are constantly targeted in Iraq by the Kurdish militias, by the militias belonging to some extremist parties, by foreign terrorist groups operating in the north of Iraq and by the U.S. occupation forces.

They have suffered a great number of casualties as a consequence of attacks on their community in Amirli, Altun Kopru, Beshir, Kerkuk, Tavik, Taza, Telafer, Tisin, Tuz Hurmato, etc. Furthermore, in order to silence them the Turkmens are now being subjected to death threats, property and land confiscations, imprisonment, torture, kidnappings and assassinations. Hundreds of Turkmens have been arrested and thousands of them have been killed.

Turkmens are the only community in Iraq which does not have weapons and militias; they are seeking to obtain their rights by democratic and peaceful means, but because they do not have militias they are very vulnerable and the existence of their community is contested and its future in Iraq is seriously endangered.

As true Iraqi patriots the Turkmens are strongly opposed to the balkanisation of Iraq, they consider that the disputed city of Kerkuk should have a special status, as the fate of the city is vital for all of Iraq and a planned referendum on its status should be held across the country, not in Kerkuk only as intended now.

The Turkmens declare that Kerkuk is an Iraqi city and all the people of Iraq should decide on its fate. A referendum to be held only in Kerkuk would not be acceptable and valid since it is extremely easy to manipulate election results in the city. The issue of Kerkuk’s status is potentially explosive for Iraq, and ethnic conflict over the city could spark violent clashes and even a civil war across Iraq, that could eventually lead to disintegration of the country.

The Turkmens of Iraq want a free, united and democratic Iraq, where all Iraqis: Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens, Chaldeo-Assyrians and others, live in harmony and peace. They are calling upon the international community and all peace loving people to support the Iraqi people in their struggle to liberate their country from the occupation and to obtain just compensation for all the moral and material damages they have suffered.

Dr. Hassan T. Walli Aydinli
Committee for the Defence of the Iraqi Turkmens’ Rights – Belgium


October 14, 2009 at 2:15 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Wed, 14 Oct 2009

Erbil Gözlemleri

Bölgesel Kürt Yönetiminin başkenti Erbil, Zagros Dağları’nın eteklerinde, Aşağı ve Yukarı Zap suları arasında kurulmuş tarihi bir Türkmen kentidir. Şehrin demografik dokusu, 1970’li yıllardan itibaren değişmeye başlamış ve Türkmenler şehirde azınlığa düşmüşlerdir. Erbil’in Kuzeybatısından Büyük Zap’ın Güneydoğu’sundan ise Küçük zapın geçmesi bölgenin verimli toprağa sahip olduğunun göstergesidir. Tarım ürünleri olarak Buğday,arpa,darı,tütün yetiştiriciliği göze batmakta. Kentin kırsal kesimlerin de ise küçük baş hayvancılığının yapıldığını söyleyebiliriz.   Bulunduğu konum itibariyle Musul, Bağdat ve Basra yollarının kesişmesi noktası olması ve karayolu ile İran’a ulaşması kentin stratejik önemini arttırmaktadır.

 Erbil bulunduğu konum nedeni ile tarıma elverişli bir alana sahip. Fakat, Bölgede tarımsal üretim yapılmasına karşın yeterli olmadığı gözlenmekte. Temel tüketim maddelerinin büyük bir kısmı Türkiye sağlamakta. Petrol yasasının çıkması ile birlikte hükümet gelir kaynağının büyük bir kısmını petrolden sağlamaya başlamıştır. Dış sermayeyi bölgeye çekebilmek için 2006 yilinda yürürlüğe giren “Yatırım Teşvik Yasası” adı verilen kanun, yabancılara bölgede yatırım yapmaları için hiçbir bedel ödemeden toprak ve araziler sağlıyor. 10 yıl boyunca vergiden muaf olma ve 5 yıl boyunca gümrüksüz dışardan mal getirebilme ile dışardan yabancı personel alabilme hakki tanındığını belirtti. Bölgede tarım,gıda ve Kırtasiye ürünlerine gümrük uygulanmamakta fakat diğer ürünler içinse % 5 oranında gümrük uygulanmakta.


Erbil, savaş sonrası geniş bir şantiyeyi andırıyor. Bölgede yeni yapılanmalar dikkati çekiyor. Özellikle yeni yollar, ve yeni konut yapılanmalarına hız verilmiş. Fakat, seçim öncesi Bölgede tüm inşaatların durduğunu söylemekte fayda var. Bunun nedeni incelendiğinde seçim sonuçlarının beklendiğini belirttiler. Eğer seçimlerde Mesut Barzani kazanamazsa inşaatların duracağı belirtilmekte. Çünkü Mesut Barzani’nin tüm şirketlerde yarı yarıya ortak olduğu belirtilmekte. Şehirde göze çarpan en önemli hususlardan birisi alt yapının eksik olması. Bölgede yeni binalar, alışveriş merkezleri, yollar ve havaalanı yapılmasına karşın, Alt yapıya yönelik hiç bir çalışmanın yapılmadığı gözlenmekte. Şehrin atık suları kaldırım kenarlarına yapılmış oyuklar tarafından atılmakta.


İnşaatların bir kısmı bitmesine rağmen teslim edilmediği gözlenmekte. Bunun nedeni araştırıldığında firma ve sözde hükümet arasında bir güvensizliğin olduğu gözlenmekte. Erbil de başta ABD olmak üzere , Türkiye, Lübnan, Fransa, İngiltere, Almanya, Suudi Arabistan, Kore,İsrail, Japonya  ve Çin şirketleri farklı alanlarda hizmet veriyor. Halkın refah seviyesinde her hangibir artış olmadığını açık bir şekilde söyleye biliriz. Halkın %90 lık bir kısmı hükümet adına çalışıyor. Erkeklerin büyük bir kısmı peşmerge olarak görev yapmakta ve aldığı maaş ise 300 ile 400 dolar arasında. Refah seviyeside ki artış belirli bir zümrenin elinde olduğunu söylemek mümkün. Bunların başını çeken ise Barzani Aşireti gelmekte.

Bölgede kaçakçılıkta ön plan da, özellikle elektronik ve telekomikasyon ürünlerinin cook ucuz olması bölgeyi cazip kılmakta.




 Bölge karışık bir etnik yapıya sahip, Bölgede ağırlıklı olarak; Türkmenler, Araplar ve Kürtler yaşamakta. Sayıları az olmasına karşın Bölgede Hıristiyan ve Yahudi mahalleleri de bulunmakta. Erbil sokaklarında kadına rastlamak pek mümkün değil fakat Hırıstiyan mahallesinde durum daha farklı. Kadının sosyal bir statüye sahip olduğu gözlenmekte. Bölgenin en gelişmiş ve güvenlikli alanı ise Hıristiyan mahallesi. Erbil de Saddam Hüseyin dönemin de olan 3 sinema yıkılarak otopark olarak kullanılmakta.  Halkın büyük bir kısmı şehrin en eski yapısı olan kale civarında yer alan çarşılarda    ve aynı yerde yer alan kapalı çarşıda bulunmakta.


Genç nüfusun büyük kısmı Türk müziği dinlemekte. Ağırlıklı olarak İsmail YK, İbrahim Tatlıses ve Mahsum Kırmızıyüz tercih ediliyor. Halk bu sanatcıları dinlediği gibi büyük kesmi de bu sanatcıları model aldığı gözlenmekte. ( Saç traşları, giydikleri kıyafetler vb) Bölge televizyonlarında Türk dizileri yakından izlenilmekte, diğer yabancı diziler alt yazılı yayınlanmasına karşın Türk dizileri Kürtçe dublaj yapılıyor.  Halkın bir kısmı Türkiye ye karşı sempati ile yaklaşsa da büyük bir kısmı tepkili.

 Bunun nedeni ise PKK ve Barzani.


Öte yandan kendi içinde bir çelişki gibi görünse de Türkiye bir hayranlık ve çekim merkezi. Halkın büyük bir kısmı Türkiye’ye gelmek istemekte. Bunun en önemli nedeni ise pasaportlarında Türkiye vizesi bulunanlar diğer komşu ülkelere rahatlıkla vize alabilmekte.




 Terör örgüt PKK’nın bölgede etkin bir ağırlığa sahip olduğu gibi halk üzerinde de sempati oluşturduğu gözden kaçmamakta. Barzani ise bölgenin ekonomik durumunun zayıf olmasından dolayı halkı bir arada tutmak için bir tehlike yaratma cabası içinde bu tehlike de Türkiye olarak lanse ettirilmekte. Konu ile ilgili yapılan görüşmelerde  Türkiye’nin askeri operasyonları bölgenin işgal edileceği korkusu yaşanmakta ve bu operasyonlar tepki ile karşılanmakta.


PKK’nın bölgede ki durumu ise, irtibat ofisleri kapanmasına karşın yasadışı olarak faaliyetlerine devam etmekte. Terör örgütü tüm ihtiyaçlarını Erbil’den karşılamakta. Zira Kandil Dağı ile Erbil arası yaklaşık 3 saat. Örgüttün kaçanlar ise Erbil de yaşıyorlar. Kuzey Yönetimi,  PKK’nın faaliyetlerinden korktuğu için kazandırma yasası çıkartarak örgütten ayrılmak isteyenlere vatandaşlık hakkı tanımakta.


PKK Erbil’den ziyade Musul da güçlenmiş durumda. Musul da ki karışık durum PKK’nın o bölgede güçlenmesine neden olmakta. Türkmen kenti olan Taleferde de PKK’nın bir irtibat bürosuna sahip olduğu, buradan Suriye ve Kandil bağlantısı sağlanmakta olduğu ileri sürülüyor.  Suriye de yaşayan Kürtlerin vatandaşlık  hakkı olmadığı için örgütte katıldığı iddialar arasında. Suriye’den Kandil Dağına giden yol olarak Musul ve Telafer’i kullandığı belirtilmekte.




 Bölgede ağırlıklı üç etnik yapının baskın olmasına karşın bölge de kullanılan dil Kürtçe. Erbil’de Kürtlerin büyük bir kısmı Sorani’ce konuşmakta. Fakat Erbil’den Kuzeye doğru çıkıldıkça Kırmanci daha fazla konuşulmakta. Bölge yönetimi Kırmançi ve Soranice’nin birleştirilerek yeni bir dil oluşturma çabası içinde olduğu öğrenildi; Fakat bu çalışma başarılı olamadığı gibi ileriki zamanlarda da başarılı olamayacağını değerlendire biliriz. Çünki bölge aşiret yapısına sahip olduğu gibi her aşiret farklı lehçelerde konuşmakta.

Üniversitelerde de sosyal bilimler Kürtçe olarak okutulduğu gibi mühendislik dersleri İngilizce olarak verilmekte. Bir diğer husus ise Bölgede yeni pasaport çıkarma yolunda, buna gore pasaport bilgileri üç dilde olacak, Kürtçe, Arapça ve ingilizce, Bölgede yoğun bir Türk nüfusu olmasına karşın Türkçe’ye yer verilmemesi ayrıca haklın büyük bir kısmı Türkçe bilmesine karşın peşmerge baskısından dolayı konuşmaması Türk dil birliğinin yok edilerek Türkmenlerin asimile çalışmalarının yoğun bir şekilde yapıldığını gösteriyor.




 Erbil’de Türkmen kimliğini silmek için yoğun şekilde çalışmalar sürmekte. Erbil’in en eski yeri olan kale içerisinde yer alan ve Türkmenlerin yoğun şekilde yaşadığı yerler boşaltılmıştır. Seçimlerden bir kaç gün önce şehrin Türk olduğunu kanıtlayan kitapların olduğu kütüphane yakılmıştır. Resmini aşağıda görebilirsiniz.


 Erbil, bölgenin en güvenlikli alan olduğunu söyleye biliriz. Şehirden ABD orduları tamamen çekilmiş durumda ABD ordusu, Bağdatda bulunan Anakonda üssünde yer almakta. Şehrin güvenliğini peşmergeler sağlamakta. Saat 22.00 dan itibaren yaklaşık 100 ile 150 metre mesafeli güvenlik noktaları bulunmakta.


Peşmergelerde kendi aralarında ayrılmış durumda bunlar;


1-      Polis


2-      Asayiş


3-      Açil Müdahale ekipleri


4-      Özel Birlik ( Zawita ) 

Peşmergeler ne kadar düzenli olduğu söylense de disiplinsiz yapıları ile dikkati çekmekte. Göze çarpan bir şekil disiplinin olmadığı gözlenmekte. Başlarına buyruk bir yapıya sahip. Yaş ortalamsı ya çok küçük ya da ilerlemiş bir yaşa sahip. Peşmergeler içinde PKK üyeleride mevcut bunlar kendi aralarında devşirme olarak nitelendirilmekte. Peşmergelerin eğitimi ABD ve İsrail tarafından verilmekte.


Peşmergelerin hepsi devlet tarafından maaş almakta. Kendi aralarında ki derecelemeye gore 350 ila 400 dolar arasında maaş almakta.


Ayrıca, Parastina adlı bir istihbarat örgütüne de sahip. Bu örgüt israil tarafından eğitilmekte. Alınan bilgilere göre parastina mensupları Türkçe ve Farsça bilmekte. Sınır boylarında görevlendirildiği gibi turist ve iş adamlarının kaldığı otellerde garson olarak çalıştırılmakta.
Peşmergelerin en güvendiği birlik ise özel eğitimli olan zawitalar, sözde komutanı Aziz veysi, eski PKK lı istihbarat raporlarına göre de birliğin büyük bir kısmını PKK dan ayrılan teröristler oluşturmakta. Zawitaların eğitimini ABD özel kuvvetleri vermekte. Alınan bilginin kaynağı tartışmalıda olsa şu an ki eğitimleri Dahuk’ta Türk Özel Kuvvetlerince verildiği bildirilmiştir.


Bölgede dış istihbarat servisleri yoğun bir şekilde faaliyet göstermekte. Özellikle Mosad ve CIA  açık olarak çalışmakta. Diğer İstihbarat birliklerinde irtibat ofisleri bulunmakta. Alman istihbaratının da bölgede  faaliyet göstermekte olduğu ileri sürülüyor.




 Bölgede okuma yazma oranının çok düşük olduğu söylemek mümkün. Seçim sırasında seçim kayıt defteri incelendiğinde halkın büyük bir kısmı imza yerine parmak bastığı görülmekte. Bir lise de yapılan görüşme neticesinde lisede 19 öğrencinin okuduğu ve 54 öğretmenin olduğu öğrenilmiştir. Erbil’de bulunan üniversiteler ise, Kürdistan Üniversitesi, Selahattin Üniversitesi, Gülen Cemaatine ait olan Işık Üniversitesi, eğitimler Kürtçe olarak yapılmakta.  


Haberiniz.com temsilcisi özel Erbil raporu




The Kurds’ Way by Melik Kaylan

July 29, 2009 at 9:01 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Comment: Melik Kaylan writes: “The Kurds flooded into Kerkuk and kept coming in the next two years until some 200,000 or more Kurds had moved into the city.”

In reality, over 600,000 Kurds, the great majority of whom were not originally from Kerkuk, have been transferred to Kerkuk since April 2003.

In order to change the demography of Kerkuk the  parties of the two Kurdish warlords Barzani and Talabani have given financial incentives and false identity papers to Kurds who are not originally from Kerkuk (some were brought  from Iran, Syria and Turkey) and have organized their transfer to Kerkuk.

The Kurds’ Way

Melik Kaylan, 07.28.09

Grandiose nationalism and demographic skullduggery.


The results of the elections that just took place last weekend in Iraqi Kurdistan could affect the stability of Iraq and, indeed, the entire region. The country is slowly sliding toward disaster.

These days, the issue that jeopardizes Iraqi stability more than any other–both in the short and long term–is not the threat from al-Qaida or the Sunni-Shiite split or the meddling of Iran. Those threats have faded for now. Instead it is the struggle over the fate of the city of Kerkuk that could spark a new civil war, one that could draw in Turkey, Iran and Syria. Neither of the two dominant coalition parties in Iraqi Kurdistan–the PUK and KDP–are offering to compromise with the central government in Baghdad over who rules oil-rich Kerkuk: the Kurds, or Iraq as a whole. The Kurdish elections have not altered that explosive standoff.

As things stand, the Kurdistan Regional Government, headed by President Masood Barzani, claims that the city falls within the boundaries of Iraqi Kurdistan. They are, in effect, laying claim to the control of Kerkuk’s oil wealth. Baghdad, for its part, insists that the oil revenues must be distributed to the nation through the central government. The issue was booted into the future when the Iraqi constitution was drafted in 2005: The matter was to be decided by a national census followed by a referendum in Kerkuk by 2007.

Neither has happened. The Kurds would like to have the referendum already; everyone else, including the U.S., wants the referendum postponed until all parties have agreed on some sort of formula for power-sharing. This is because everyone knows who will win the referendum: the Kurds. (A very useful book on the subject, indeed on the future of Iraq in general, is How to Get Out of Iraq With Integrity, from the University of Pennsylvania Press. The author, Professor Brendan O’Leary, is a brilliant Irishman who worked on the Good Friday Accords to settle the conflict in Northern Ireland and then helped draft the Kurdish Constitution. He’s very sympathetic to the Kurds, but nobody’s perfect.)


Everyone believes, probably correctly, that the national census will show the Kurds have a majority of inhabitants in Kerkuk. The referendum’s outcome will reflect that. But everyone also knows that the Kurds cheated. They created facts on the ground soon after the U.S. invasion and the collapse of Saddam’s northern front. The Kurds flooded into Kerkuk and kept coming in the next two years until some 200,000 or more Kurds had moved into the city. They proceeded to purge various neighborhoods of their inhabitants. Arabs in particular flooded out, and many went to nearby Mosul to join the resistance, which partly explains why that city remains a powder keg.

The Kurds took over various municipal buildings in Kerkuk and burned tons of documents, such as land deeds and ownership records. Such details were hardly reported at the time. The world’s enlightened press collectively treated the Kurds as their chosen victim du jour–until the press turned against the war. At first the Kurds were said to be merely returning to Kerkuk, their rightful home. Then the numbers grew out of proportion. Saddam had pushed them out of the city forcibly from the 1970s onward and settled Arabs in their place. But nobody knew how many had actually lived there and for how long before Saddam had purged them. The Kurds clearly didn’t want anyone to know, hence the bonfires of documents. By the time the world press decided to take a second look, it was too late. The Kurds were fully installed.

I was in and out of Iraq during those years. Some weeks before the war started, I sneaked into Iraqi Kurdistan from Turkey and over into Saddam territory with money and a camera provided by CNN. I was perhaps the only Western journalist who didn’t have a Kurdish minder in Kurdistan and was therefore privy to all manner of Kurdish shenanigans unseen and unreported by others. I even filed a story for the saintly editor of the Wall Street Journal‘s op-ed page. It was probably the only dispatch from the region in a Western newspaper that took a skeptical look at America’s valued tribal allies, particularly their leader Masood Barzani, whose family was still in cahoots with Saddam. The article predicted much of the trouble to come over Kerkuk.

There was, in the next few years, one group nobody wished to consult. This comprised the oldest inhabitants of Kerkuk, the Turkmen, whose ancient castle stood atop the central hill of Kerkuk, and whose old houses visibly testified to those who had lived there longest. But the Kurds, and the world press, had no time for the claims of the Turkmen, Iraq’s third-largest ethnic group; they were said to be Turkey’s fifth column within Kurdistan, spoilers, spies, whiners.

Nobody cared to note that this dismissal was precisely what the British had intended when they first carved out Iraq from the old Ottoman Empire after World War I. Not only did the Brits create Iraq’s borders out of thin air, they conducted a dodgy consensus to generate the results they needed. They invented a new ethnic group, the Turkmen, in order to downplay Turkey’s ethnic bonds and potential territorial claims to the region–an absurd artifice, as all Turks were Turkmen at some point in history. The Brits chose to imagine the Turkmen as tribal or nomadic, though the ones in northern Iraq were anything but. In Kerkuk, they were–and are–a highly literate, urbanized group, the Ottoman administrative class.

Ironically enough, Stalin followed this example by fragmenting the Turkic Silk Road region into pseudo-ethnic Republics, picking tribal names out of history and imposing them on newly drawn administrative zones: Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and so forth. He then invented folk histories to suit his project, forcing these histories on the inhabitants.

Saddam openly modeled himself on Stalin: He too invented a retro-identity for the Turkmen, linking their history to the Soviet Republic of that name, and proceeded to indoctrinate his Turkic citizens of northern Iraq along the same lines. Nobody cared to know any of this as the Kurds inundated Kerkuk with settlers after the U.S. invasion. I remember a thoroughly ignorant female BBC correspondent riding at night atop a Kurdish truck into Kerkuk, drunk on adventure, shouting into the camera, “The Kurds are coming back home, for Kerkuk is a Kurdish city.”

When I returned to the Kurdistan Regional Government’s capital of Erbil three or four years later, I was astonished to find that the Turkmen were increasingly complacent over their lives under the Kurds. They were relatively well treated; there was enough work and minimal hostility. Compared with the full-scale civil war burgeoning elsewhere in Iraq, Kurdistan seemed idyllic. Women attended school. They more frequently adopted Western garb. Clean-cut students learned foreign languages. New construction rose all around. Sure, the two local ruling families of Barzani and Talabani (Jalal Talabani is Iraq’s president) had a hand in virtually every political and business transaction in the Kurdish zone. Indeed, this pervasive corruption ultimately gave rise to the new opposition party calling itself “Goran,” meaning “change,” which challenged the ruling duopoly in the recent elections.

It was certainly not Switzerland. The Kurds created pro-Kurdish puppet political parties of Turkmen to whom they allotted seats in Kurdistan’s parliament. Barzani kept making bellicose noises over Kerkuk, saying that if the referendum is not “implemented then there will be a real civil war.” The government kept announcing state-to-state diplomatic relations with various foreign countries, as if Kurdistan were an independent entity and not part of Iraq at all. Meanwhile, the Kurdish area nearer to Iran still maintained cordial ties to Tehran, as it still does. When Ahmadinejad made a state visit to Baghdad, he stood on a podium with President Talabani and called him “uncle Jalal.” (Talabani had been a client of the mullahs during the Kurdish civil war in the mid-1990s when his troops fought against Barzani’s, who was, in turn, supported by Saddam.)

The U.N. has worked on the question of Kerkuk for two years and recently came up with a confidential report. Only its general outlines are publicly known. The most workable solution they suggest, the one that’s least likely to cause instant strife, is the establishment of a neutral and separate province of Kerkuk with all the parties having a share.

It’s time to give the Turkmen a safe zone of their own. They suffered under Saddam as much as anyone, and Iraq owes them redress on many levels. Furthermore, the Kurds realize that whoever controls Kerkuk’s landlocked oil must make a pipeline deal with some nearby country, whether it be Syria, Turkey or Iran. None of those countries will suffer a new and independent Kurdish state to survive, one that’s afloat in sufficient oil money to stir up trouble with their own Kurds. They will demand impossible conditions for allowing Kerkuk oil through.

The Iraqi Kurds’ Western allies would certainly prefer that they do business with Turkey, and the Turks will demand that Kerkuk remain free of Kurdish rule. The West now also realizes that encouraging the grandiose nationalist dreams of Barzani and his ilk has been a mistake. It has brought Iraq to the brink of a new dissolution.

The Kurds have done very well, and bless them for it, but they remain a fractious bunch. They should recognize that they’ve just lived the best 10 years of their divided history since the days of Pax Ottomanica, and they should step away from the edge. They should look around and note that virtually no state in the world with control of oil gets a good night’s sleep. Literacy, educated women, hard work, free enterprise and transparent institutions are better than oil, especially if they want continued support from Western countries invested in Iraq’s stability. The Kurds don’t need to dominate and manipulate other ethnic groups, and they don’t need to be surrounded by enemies. The last thing they need is control of Kerkuk.

Melik Kaylan, a writer based in New York, writes a weekly column for Forbes. His story “Georgia in the Time of Misha” is featured in The Best American Travel Writing 2008.


Assyrians in North Iraq fear Ballot Rigging in January 31 Elections

January 28, 2009 at 11:13 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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GMT 1-28-2009 1:44:5
Assyrian International News Agency

(AINA) — Iraq’s provincial elections, to be held on January 31, are of great importance for its minorities. Fears are growing, however, in the Nineveh Plain, an area within the Province of Nineveh that has experienced electoral rigging and voting irregularities. In the coming provincial elections in the province of Nineveh, the Assyrian, Yezidi and Shabak minorities are vying for at least one seat each in the new council, which will govern the large province with its mixed population.


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Pro-Kurdish Block Accused of Buying Assyrian Votes in Upcoming Iraqi Election

January 27, 2009 at 9:43 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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GMT 1-27-2009 1:38:20
Assyrian International News Agency

North Iraq (AINA) — A member of Iraq’s parliament, Mr Ablahad Afram, accused on Sunday the pro-Kurdish Ishtar list of buying Assyrian votes in the upcoming provincial elections, reported Baghdad Times. Afram accused the Ishtar list, which is competing with two other lists for the only Assyrian seat in the Nineveh province, of using aid as a means to force people to vote for them.

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Kurdish warlords illegally importing arms from Bulgaria

November 23, 2008 at 12:54 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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These weapons will be used by the Kurdish militias against the Turkmens, Assyrians and Arabs who are opposed to the  Kurdification of the north of Iraq.

Kurds in N. Iraq Receive Arms From Bulgaria
3 Planeloads of Munitions Worry Officials in Baghdad

By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, November 23, 2008; A01

BAGHDAD — Kurdish officials this fall took delivery of three planeloads of small arms and ammunition imported from Bulgaria, three U.S. military officials said, an acquisition that occurred outside the weapons procurement procedures of Iraq’s central government.

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Thousands of Iraqi Arabs attend anti-Kurdish protest

November 16, 2008 at 11:51 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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by Hassan al-Obeidi Hassan Al-obeidi Sat Nov 15, 2:21 pm ET

AFP/File – 

TIKRIT, Iraq (AFP) – Thousands of Sunni and Shiite Arabs took to the streets across Iraq Saturday to defend Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki against criticism from leaders of the country’s Kurdish minority.

Demonstrations were held in the northern Sunni town of Tikrit — the hometown of executed dictator Saddam Hussein — the once-restive Sunni town of Hawijah, and the mostly Shiite southern cities of Karbala, Najaf, Nasiriyah, Samawah, and Hilla, AFP correspondents said.


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