Tags: Merry Fitzgerald, Operation Desert Storm
By Blue Woman
‘Operation Desert Storm’, the massive air and missile aggressionon Iraq was launched on January 17, 1991 at 2:30 a.m. local time.
That night as we were watching the TV, the programme was suddenly interrupted and we saw pictures of the Baghdad sky illuminated with what seemed to be anti-aircraft fire; we realized with horror that the war on Iraq had started. We stayed up all night, terrified, watching with dismay how beautiful Baghdad, the city of One Thousand and One Nights, was being massively bombarded.
Our thoughts and prayers were for our relatives and friends and for all Iraqis who could not escape from this hell. How many would die under the bombs and missiles which were falling ‘at random’ on residential areas all over Baghdad and other Iraqi cities?
I still shudder when remembering that awful night and all the other terrible nights of the ‘First Gulf War’, there was no possibility to communicate with our loved ones in Iraq, the U.S.’s first targets had been the telecommunication centres and electrical grid on which they had dropped Tungsten bombs. Iraqis were completely isolated, alone, desperately alone…in the dark…in the chaos, amidst the destruction caused by these brutal attacks from the air.
We watched in dismay how the beautiful country that many generations of Iraqis had worked so hard to build and develop was being destroyed. We watched with horror how the American and British ‘boys’ cheered whenever their bombs hit some ‘target’, killing Iraqis. No doubt that George Bush was enjoying it too, ‘bringing Iraq back to pre-industrial era’.
Many Americans thought it was right to attack Iraq, they had no qualms that the country’s civil infrastructure was being purposely destroyed and that many thousands of Iraqis were dying. They believed the coalition troops were attacking Iraq to ‘liberate’ Kuwait* and to prevent an Iraqi attack on the zionist entity.
Some westerners who had never met an Iraqi and who could not even locate Iraq on the map, were filled with hatred towards the Iraqi people, because they had been told ‘how Iraqi soldiers were taking premature babies out of incubators in Kuwait’ !!! (1) and some other terrible stories fabricated by the western media,. Others were so gullible that they really believed there was such a thing as the ‘Iraqi Super canon’!!!
The western media were the accomplices of the warmongers, continuously diffusing their lies and propaganda. According to Fair,the US media allowed less than 1% of their space to those who were opposed the war. Day after day they repeated George Bush’s mantra: ‘about establishing a New World Order’ and many people in the west believed that the destruction of Iraq was worthwhile to establish this so-called ‘New World Order’.
Seventeen years have passed, but the pain and outrage I felt that night have not diminished, neither has my resentment towards all those who participated in this criminal aggression on Iraq.
George Bush, Dan Quayle, James Baker, Dick Cheney, William Webster, Colin Powell, Norman Schwarzkopf and many others who share responsibility in attacking and destroying Iraq still remain to be judged for crimes against peace, for war crimes, for crimes against humanity and for other criminal acts committed in violation of the Charter of the United Nations, in violation of the international law, in violation of the Conventions of Geneva and The Hague, in violation of the Charter of Nürenberg and in violation of the laws regulating armed conflicts. By waging this illegal war on Iraq George Bush also violated the Constitution of the United States.
Bush’s imperialist ‘New World Order’ was based on the capitulation and submission of the people in the Middle East, principally on the surrender of oil-rich Iraq.
On this sad seventeenth anniversary of the launching of the criminal aggression on Iraq my thoughts are with all Iraqi patriots who are fighting to free their country from the foreign occupiers.
On this day, one of the beautiful Irish patriotic song comes into my mind (I have substituted the name Ireland with Iraq)
Come the day and come the hour
Come the power and the glory
We have come to answer
Our Country’s call
From all the provinces of Iraq
Together standing tall
Shoulder to shoulder
We’ll answer Iraq’s call
Hearts of steel
And heads unbowing
Vowing never to be broken
We will fight, until
We can fight no more
From all the provinces of Iraq
(1) It was the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador in the US who made these false accusations in front of the cameras, pretending to be a Kuwaiti nurse who had witnessed these barbaric acts!!!
*Kuwait: an invention of the British Foreign Office ‘around an oil well ‘ to deny Iraq access to the sea and so limit its influence in the Gulf and maintain it under British dependence.
Tags: Committee for the Defence of the Iraqi Turkmens' Rights, Dr Hassan Aydinli, ITF EU representative, Merry Fitzgerald, Wladimir van Wilgenburg
My interview by Wladimir van Wilgenburg
Merry Fitzgerald with Dr. Hassan AYDINLI, Iraqi Turkmen Front Europe Representative, at a UNPO conference in Brussels 16 May 2008
Merry Fitzgerald is the Secretary of the Representative of the Iraqi Turkmen Front in Belgium. She is also part of the Committee for the Defence of the Iraqi Turkmens’ Rights in Belgium. She feels concerned about the situation of Turkmen in Iraq and says that Northern Iraq has been the homeland of the Iraqi Turkmens for over a millennium. In Belgium she is active as a human rights activist for Turkmens in Iraq. I asked some questions to get a different perspective on the Turkmens in Iraq. She also has a blog.
How did you get involved with the Turkmen from Iraq ?
Having lived in Iraq, I am very attached to the country and its people. I have followed with dismay the tragic events which have taken place since the US-led coalition attacked and destroyed the country’s infrastructure and since the criminal economic sanctions (instigated by the US and UK) were imposed on the Iraqi people.
Since April 2003 (after the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq) my interest and concern have been directed principally towards the Turkmens of Iraq who continue to be victims of discrimination, marginalization and ethnic cleansing. I found that as their plight is ignored in the West their just cause does not get the attention it deserves from the European politicians, decision makers and human rights organizations.
I found the Turkmens are the only people who are oppressed and have no serious support from outside. Kurds get serious help, support and guidance from US, Europe and Israel, Shias get serious support from Iran. But the Turkmens don’t have any serious support from anybody except some cultural help from Turkey which is not enough.
Poster of a lecture about Turkmen at the University of Amsterdam
How active are the Turkmen in Europe ? What do they do in general to get attention for Turkmen in Iraq ?
Turkmens in Europe are generally and mostly poor and uneducated refugees scattered across Europe. With their limited linguistic and financial abilities they try to inform the Europeans about their cause in the form of demonstrations, meetings, conferences and internet sites.
What do you think about the relations between Iraqi Turkmen and Iraqi Kurds?
Turkmens and Kurds used to be together, friendly and brotherly for over 1000 years. They lived together and struggled together. In fact it was the Turkmens who brought most of the Kurds from their ancestral land Kurdistan which is in mid-western Iran (Hamadan-Bakhtaran-Senendej) and recruited them in their armies and saved them from the Shiite oppression in Iran and allowed them to settle in Eastern Anatolia and Northern Iraq.
Turkmens and Kurds fought together after WWI against the British invasion of Iraq. In the 1920’ies they were together and side by side during the Musul liberation war 1919-1923 as Ozdemir and Sheikh Mahmud won a major victory in the battle of Derbend on August 30.1922. But the British-Indian army came later with a much greater power and endless arial bombardments. So they lost. Until today, Sheikh Mahmud and Commander Ozdemir are the two heroes of the Turkmens and the Kurds together.
But later, the Kurds became victims of agitation from the British, Soviets, Israel, Iran and US as they were promised to have their dreamland “Kurdistan” for themselves alone and decided to include the lands of their partners (the Turkmens) as theirs and treat them as their minority, which is not acceptable by the Turkmens because this is against the nature of Northern Iraq (Musul Region).
Musul region is a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi religious area. Where there are 3 major ethnic groups (Kurds, Turkmens, and Arabs) and three minor ethnic groups (Chaldeo-Assyrians, Yezidis, Shabaks),
Each of those groups would like to have their own autonomy and self-determination rights and would not accept the domination of one of them over the rest (as the Arab domination until 2003 and from 2003 and on the Kurdish domination).
The fair solution to the problem of Northern Iraq is that:
– Each ethnic group has their own autonomy with no borders to include all their people within Northern Iraq.
– Create the Northern Federation or the Musul Federation within Iraq, where the three major groups (Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs) have equal share of power in administering the region and give the minorities a fair share.
This is the only solution. But for one group to have it all and treat the rest as minorities is not acceptable at all, that is what is happening now.
What’s the role of Ankara in the Turkmen issue of Iraq? Good or bad?
Ankara is helping Turkmens to protect their culture only so it is good to a certain degree, but it is not giving them a serious help politically, militarily and economically, therefore it is insufficient.
Do you believe the Iraqi Turkmen front was created by the Turkish army? Do you also think that the Iraqi Turkmen front ‘holds the primary responsibility for the retardation of the Turkmen political system’? See the criticism of SOITM.
The function of any army is to create another army or at least a militia. If the Turkish army created the ITF, so where is the Turkmen army or at least where is the Turkmen militia? As you know the Turkmens are the only group in Iraq who does not have an armed group. Do you think the second army in NATO is not capable to create a Turkmen army?
ITF was created by 4 Turkmen groups in Erbil in 1995 to unite their words and efforts. Turkey is giving a CULTURAL and MORAL help because no power in the world is willing to help the Turkmens.
If the so-called democratic and free countries of Americas and Europe helped the Turkmens all those years, I don’t think that the Turkmens would need any help from Turkey.
Why does SOITM (Turkmen human rights organization) says Turkmen Front was founded by Turkish army and criticizes the ITF so much? The SOITM also says the ITF is financed by Turkey
SOITM, the website you mention, is a website which is run by an Iraqi in the Netherlands who represents himself only and who is a self-proclaimed defender of the rights of the Turkmens of Iraq. I do not give any importance whatsoever to ‘an article’ the author/source of which is unknown and which is not based on reliable information.
Why didn’t the Turkmen front and other Turkmen parties didn’t get so many votes? Is that because most Turkmen are Shia?
What do you expect from any election performed under occupation? Northern Iraq is under Kurdish Peshmerga occupation. The Iraqi elections (2005) in the North were one of the most fraudulent elections in history. Almost all ballot boxes were stolen by the Kurdish Peshmerga and votes were changed to the benefit of the Kurds. Despite a ban on transportation on Election Day, the Kurds were moving from one location to another. An average Kurd voted five times. Even the dead and under age children voted! The fraud and manipulation was so reckless and obvious that the number of votes in some location exceeded the number of the population. For example in the Turkmen city of Altun Kopru (Golden Bridge in Turkish) where the population of the town was 30.000 the number of votes was 45.000!
It was well recorded in the election complaints that the Kurdish Peshmerga prevented hundreds of thousand of people from voting because they knew that they would not vote in Kurdish favour (as it happened in the plains of Nineveh East of Musul and in the Turkmen Telafer area West of Musul and in the villages of Turkmen Bayat tribes South of Kerkuk).
So it was not surprising that the Kurds got 2.500.000 votes whereas the Turkmens got 93.000.
Almost half of the Turkmens are Shias, but that is not a factor in elections. Only the ultra religious ones voted for Shia parties. That is the same case with Religious Kurds.
How many Turkmen parties are there?
Nationalist Turkmen Parties:
1- Iraqi Turkmen Front- ITF
2- Turkmeneli Party
3- Iraqi National Turkmen Party
4- Independents Movement
5- Turkmen Nationalist Movement
6- Turkmen Decision Party
Religious Turkmen Parties:
1- Justice and Liberation Party (religious)
2- Turkmen Islamic Party (religious)
3- Turkmen Wafa Party
4- Turkmens’ Islamic Union
So altogether is 10 but the greatest one is ITF.
There are a number of Turkmen Parties created by the Kurds but they have no popularity whatsoever among the Turkmens.
Do you think there will ever be a Turkmeneli region in Iraq (Turkomen region including Arbil, Zako, Khanaqin, Kerkuk etc)? A time ago the Iraqi president Talabani also spoke about this, but it seems like the (Sunni) Turkmen support a strong central government.
Everywhere Turkmens live in Iraq is considered Turkmeneli, including Telafer, Musul, Erbil, Kerkuk, Khanaqin, Duhok and Suleymaniye. But that doesn’t mean that only Turkmens live there. In some locations they are the majority (Telafer, Kerkuk) in other locations they are the minority (Erbil, Musul).
Turkmens don’t believe or want Ethnic Cleansing, because that is against the human nature. They believe in “Tolerance and Living together” as it happened for a thousand years.
Talabani’s talk stayed as a PR talk and never realized. Like most of his promises.
All of the Turkmens (Secular-Sunni- Shia) are in support of a strong central government because they are really scared of the Kurdish separatism and ethnic cleansing desire that they plan against non-Kurds in Northern Iraq.
Why do some Assyrians, Turkmens, Yezidi and Mandaeans work together against the KRG? (See this ‘joined protest’ letter). Do you think the rights of Turkmen would be guaranteed in a Assyrian federal region as advocated by some Assyrian parties?
Turkmens, Assyrians, Yezidis, Shabaks and others are really scared of the separatist Kurds who plan for an ethnic cleansing against them once they annex the lands of Northern Iraq that they currently illegally occupy. It is natural that they work together because they are in the same pit.
There are no Turkmens in the proposed Assyrian Federal Zone which is called Plains of Nineveh East of Musul, Turkmen towns are usually, North, West or South of Musul.
Tags: Agriculture in Iraq, Food sovereignty, GMOs, Intl seeds day, Iraqi Farmers, Iraqi Turkmen Media, Iraqi Turkmen Media Council Conference, Istanbul Conference, Merry Fitzgerald, Mesopotamia, Monopoly, occupation, Order 81, Paul Bremer, Plant Variety Protection, Sharing of seeds in Iraq, World food crisis
Third Iraqi Turkmen Media Council Conference
10-12 April 2009
Merry Fitzgerald’s Speech
I thank the General Secretary and the Members of the Turkmen Media Council for inviting me to the 3rd Turkmen Media Conference and for giving me the opportunity to speak.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
Journalism in Iraq
Journalism in Iraq began with Zawra newspaper in June 1869, it was published in Turkish and later in Turkish and Arabic, its editor in chief was a Turkmen.
The Turkmen media in Kerkuk are almost a century old, their history goes back to even before the creation of the Iraqi state, indeed Havadis Gazetesi was the first newspaper which was published in the Turkish language in Kerkuk (in 1911), it was followed by Maaref Gazetesi in 1913.
After the First Word War, when Iraq came under British occupation, the Turkmen media were published in two languages: Turkish and Arabic, i.e. Necme in 1918, Teceddüt in 1920, Kerkük Gazetesi, a weekly publication of Kerkük Municipality from 1926-1974, Ileri in 1935, Afak in 1954, Beshir in 1959 and Kardaşlik in 1960.
After the 14th July 1958 revolution in Iraq which brought down the monarchy and established the republic in Iraq a new constitution was written. In this first republican era constitution the Iraqi people were defined as being composed of Arabs and Kurds.
One can consider that the actual problem of the Turkmens in Iraq has started with this first republican era constitution which has discriminated and marginalised their community by down-grading it to the level of a minority with lesser rights than their Arab and Kurdish compatriots.
The Turkmens were not allowed to be educated in their mother tongue and whilst the Arabic and Kurdish media were able to flourish in Iraq the Turkmens lost the right to publish in their own language, with the consequence that today, Turkmen media have a shortage of professional journalists and are lagging behind.
In the north of Iraq where the majority of the Turkmens live and where the Turkmen region is located Turkmens have suffered from the policy of arabisation in the past and are suffering since April 2003 from the hegemonic policy of the dominant Kurdish parties who are applying the policy of kurdification of the Turkmen region (Turkmeneli) in the north of Iraq.
The Turkmen media can play a very important role in promoting and defending the rights of the Turkmen community, indeed, the media play a crucial role in shaping a healthy democracy; they are the backbone of a democracy. The media can shape people’s opinions and it is not without reason that they are also called the fourth pillar of democracy alongside the executive, legislative and judiciary powers.
Hence, the Turkmen media’s role in the development of the Turkmen society in Iraq should not be under-estimated, the media’s role is to create a social awakening about the cultural heritage, it has to build confidence and instil a sense of responsibility particularly among the youth.
As far as I know, since 2003 up to now, the Turkmens of Iraq do not yet have their own daily newspaper published in their language, this is unfortunate and all the Turkmens with their different political parties and organizations must realize that it neither logical nor acceptable for a community of almost 3 million people which considers itself rightfully as the third main ethnic community in Iraq, not to have a daily paper published in their language.
In these troubled times it is important for Turkmens to be kept informed about the political developments in Iraq, this will enable them to defend their cause and to demand their rights.
With the proliferation of alternative media, websites and blogs the Turkmens also have the opportunity to make the international public opinion aware of their situation and this requires a good knowledge of foreign languages To get people’s attention and to be credible Turkmens should give special attention to the quality of their writings, as sloppy texts are often misunderstood and do not draw the attention of the readers.
Turkmen youth in Iraq should therefore be encouraged to study communication and journalism and they should be given a chance to study abroad in order to learn foreign languages such as English, French, Spanish and German and become familiar with other cultures. Young Turkmens of the Diaspora should also be encouraged to study communication, as they already have the advantage of being familiar with foreign cultures.
On the subject of Iraq’s future a lot has been said and published in the media, US and EU experts are giving their opinions and advice, which are mostly patronizing and which do not necessarily represent the interest of the Iraqi people. These “experts” concentrate almost exclusively on the business opportunities in Iraq for their companies and their interest is centred principally on Iraq’s oil, gas and agriculture.
Iraq, as we all know, can be self-sufficient, it has water, wheat and oil. Today, because of the war and occupation, Iraq has to import wheat and even oil and a great number of Iraqis do not have access to water.
The future of Iraq’s oil is being decided under Occupation (by the US through their lackeys in the Iraqi government and by the Kurdish warlords) long term contracts which are giving away Iraq’s oil riches are being signed and these will bind Iraqis for several generations.
What is more, the fate of Iraq’s food sources and agricultural heritage is being looted behind closed doors.
The US-UK’s deliberate bombing of Iraq’s civilian infrastructure of water purification and electrical plants, cattle feed lots, poultry farms, fertilizer warehouses, pumping stations, irrigation systems, fuel depots and pesticide factories – the very infrastructure of Iraqi agriculture – has destroyed the Iraqi Agriculture.
The invasion of Iraq was not only about oil, the US corporate agribusiness is now overseeing the “rehabilitation” of agriculture in Iraq and this means the doom of Iraqi farmers.
Iraqi scientists are ringing the alarm bell, but unfortunately their warnings do not get the attention they deserve in the media.
The Occupation is destroying the economy and the future of Iraq.
Iraq, the Fertile Crescent, is home to the oldest agricultural traditions in the world. It was the centre of domestication for a remarkable range of today’s primary agricultural crops and livestock animals. Wheat, barley, rye, lentils, sheep and goats were all originally brought under human control around 8.000 BCE. Iraq is where wild wheat was once originated and many of its cereal varieties have been exported and adapted worldwide.
The inhabitants of Mesopotamia have used informal seed supply systems to plant crops, suited to their particular environment. The saving and sharing of seeds in Iraq has always been a largely informal matter. Local varieties of grain and legumes have been adapted to local conditions over the millennia. Agriculture remains an essential part of Iraq’s heritage.
Despite extreme aridity, characterised by low rainfall and soil salinity, Iraq had a world standard agricultural sector producing good quality food for generations.
According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), 97% of Iraqi farmers in 2002 still used saved seed from their own stocks from last year’s harvest, or purchased from local markets, this despite the criminal sanctions which destroyed Iraq’s agricultural sector.
U.S. Policies – GMOs and the Detrimental Effects of Order 81
When Paul Bremer left Baghdad after the so-called “transfer of sovereignty” in June 2004, he left behind the 100 orders he enacted as head of the occupation authority in Iraq.
Among them is Order 81 which he issued and signed on April 26, 2004 (paragraphs 51-79) on “Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety”. This order amends Iraq’s original patent law of 1970 and unless and until it is revised or repealed it has the status and force of a binding law; with important implications for farmers and the future of agriculture in Iraq, this order is yet another important component in the US attempts to radically transform Iraq’s economy.
While historically the Iraqi constitution prohibited private ownership of biological resources, the new US-imposed patent law introduces a system of monopoly rights over seeds. Inserted into Iraq’s previous patent law is a whole new chapter on Plant Variety Protection (PVP) that provides for the “protection of new varieties of plants”. PVP is an intellectual property right (IPR) or a kind of patent for plant varieties which gives an exclusive monopoly right on planting material to a plant breeder who claims to have discovered or developed a new variety. So the “protection” in PVP has nothing to do with conservation, but refers to safeguarding of the commercial interests of private breeders (usually large corporations) claiming to have created the new plant.
To qualify for PVP, plant varieties must comply with the standards of the UPOV Convention, (International Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties) which requires them to be new, distinct, uniform and stable. Farmers’ seeds cannot meet these criteria, making PVP-protected seeds the exclusive domain of corporations. The rights granted to plant breeders in this scheme include the exclusive right to produce, reproduce, sell, export, import and store the protected varieties. These rights extend to harvested material, including whole plants and parts of plants obtained from the use of a protected variety. This kind of PVP system is often the first step towards allowing the full-fledged patenting of life forms. Indeed, in this case the rest of the law does not rule out the patenting of plants or animals.
The term of the monopoly is 20 years for crop varieties and 25 for trees and vines.
During this time the protected variety de facto becomes the property of the breeder, and nobody can plant or otherwise use this variety without compensating the breeder. This new law means that Iraqi farmers can neither freely legally plant nor save for re-planting seeds of any plant variety registered under the plant variety provisions of the new patent law. This deprives farmers from what they and many others worldwide claim as their inherent right to save and replant seeds.
The new law is presented as being necessary to ensure the supply of good quality seeds in Iraq and to facilitate Iraq’s accession to the WTO (World Trade Organization). What it will actually do is facilitate the penetration of Iraqi agriculture by the likes of MONSANTO, SYNGENTA, BAYER and DOW CHEMICAL – the corporate giants that control seed trade across the globe.
Eliminating competition from farmers is a prerequisite for these companies to open up operations in Iraq, which the new law has achieved. Taking over the first step in the food chain is their next move.
Food sovereignty is the right of people to define their own food and agriculture policies, to protect and regulate domestic agricultural production and trade, to decide the way food should be produced, what should be grown locally and what should be imported.
The demand for food sovereignty and the opposition to the patenting of seeds has been central to the small farmers’ struggle all over the world over the past decade. By fundamentally changing the law in Iraq, the US has ensured that Iraq’s agricultural system will remain under “OCCUPATION”.
Unfortunately, the mainstream media hardly cover this important subject and the majority of Iraqis are unaware of this Machiavellian plan which will devastate the future of their country’s agriculture and irremediably change their lives and that of the future generations of Iraqis if it is implemented.
Organizations, activists, farmers and organic food advocates around the world have endorsed and will observe April 26 (day on which Bremer issued and signed this criminal law in 2004) as International Seeds Day (ISD).
A “Greedy, unjust law is meant to be disobeyed”.
The Iraqi Turkmen media can play a paramount role in informing the Iraqi people and especially the farmers of the implications of Order 81, the future of Iraq’s agriculture depends on it.
According to a recent report drafted for the ministers of the Group of Eight nations the world faces a permanent food crisis and global instability unless countries act now to feed a surging population by doubling agricultural output, it warns that global agriculture production must double by 2050.
I wish the Iraqi Turkmens and all the Iraqi people determination and courage to achieve these goals.
I thank you for your attention.
Committee for the Defence of the Iraqi Turkmens’ Rights (Belgium)
Istanbul, 10th April 2009.
Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety Law of 2004, CPA Order No. 81, 26 April 2004, http://www.iraqcoalition.org/ regulations/20040426_CPAORD_81 _Patents_Law.pdf
UPOV stands for International Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland it is an intergovernmental organisation with 53 members, mostly industrialised countries. The UPOV Convention is a set of standards for the protection of plant varieties, mainly geared toward industrial agriculture and corporate interests. See http://www.upov.org.
WTO : The World Trade Organisation, wherein the Iraqi Government has an observer status.
|The third meeting of the Iraqi Turkmen Press Council was held between April 10 and 12 in İstanbul. The purpose of the meeting, organized under the guidance of Professor Suphi Saatçi, Mehmet Tütüncü and Şükran Kayacı, was to promote the Iraqi Turkmen press.|
The Turkish press, intellectuals, bureaucrats and politicians were uninterested in the meeting. Interestingly, even İstanbul deputies and representatives of local party organizations did not pay heed to the meeting. The only notable attendees were Erşat Hürmüzlü, the chief advisor to President Abdullah Gül on the Middle East, and Iraq’s consul general in İstanbul. Considering the fact that President Gül met with Turkmen and Arab intellectuals in İstanbul on April 11, one can suggest that the Turkish presidency was the only body that attached importance to the meeting. It is an odd contradiction for Turkish intellectuals and politicians to show close interest in Iraqi Kurds while turning a blind eye to Iraqi Turkmens.
Iraqi Turkmens have always been shadowed by the fact that they are regarded as extensions of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic. They could not manage to get their voices heard about the pressure they were subjected to and the losses they suffered both during the time of Saddam and the US occupation. Their cries were always muted. They were always a community living in the shadows. However, Iraqi Turkmens are intellectual people. They do not like conflicts. They always seek to find conciliation with other groups. They believe in their hearts in territorial integrity, increased welfare and democratization. They do not want be a minority, but desire to be a community within the majority and contribute their richness to Iraq by preserving their identity. This is well exemplified in their past.
The first Iraqi Turkmen newspaper was published in 1915. However, it is ironic that there is no Turkmen press association in Iraq. They note that for several months, they have experienced difficulty in their attempts to become members of the Iraqi Press Association and that they are not allowed to establish their own trade unions. In Iraq, there are more than 100 TV channels — about half of which operate via satellite — but Turkmens have only one TV channel, namely Türkmeneli TV. Another problem they face is that although they have local papers, they do not have a national newspaper through which they could have their voices heard by the general public in Iraq.
Turkish and Western journalists who go to Iraq are, in general, not specialized in the topic of Iraq. They do not know problems or details. They tend to run analyses without knowing the distinction between Sunnis and Shiites or between Kurmanji or Sorani. They tend to cover groups such as Kurds and organizations that make sure their voices are heard by resorting to the use of arms. They tend to see peace-loving peoples like Turkmens as mere folkloric elements. They do not even try to understand the existing war.
About 75 percent of Iraqi people watch satellite TV channels to stay informed, while 6 percent tend to use Internet news sources. The written press does not have any weight in society. In Iraq, rife with attempts at disinformation, it is hard to say that there is a free press. For this reason, a new press law is in the making. If free and democratic press organizations cannot exist in Iraq, we cannot expect democracy to take root and territorial integrity to be secured. Turkmens represent a cornerstone for democratic order in Iraq. The place of Turkmens within the integrity of Iraq should be given greater emphasis so that future generations can live in peace. It should not be forgotten that various languages are part of the wealth of Iraq. Iraq needs peace and dialogue. Iraq no longer wants to see more bloodshed.