|TURKMEN IN IRAQ AND THEIR FLIGHT: A DEMOGRAPHIC QUESTION? Ethnic and religious conflicts, power struggles and wars have determined and shaped the fate of contemporary Iraq throughout the second half of the last century and into the new millennium. These conflicts have largely prevented the collection of data and therefore healthy analysis of the country’s demography for a long while. The demographic engineering took place during the Baath regime and perhaps still in progress in the country is one key reason why the international community as well as Iraqis themselves do not know for sure what the country is made of, ethnically and religiously. Therefore all studies and reports on Iraq are based on partial data which can be controversial as there is practically no reliable population frame from which anybody can draw representative samples or test the representativeness. The two surveys forming the basis of this book/report are also not free from that potential fallacy. However, given the paucity of data and analysis from war torn Iraq, every little research helps a great deal to understand population dynamics in the country and possibly inform the national and international policy choices.
The two international migration surveys were conducted in Iraq and Turkey respectively. The one conducted in Iraq targeted Iraqi Turkmen households in major cities and towns in the North and Bagdad. The chosen areas where sizeable Turkmen populations exist were surveyed by a random sampling method employed in the field. Although 1500 households were aimed to reach, our field teams were only able to complete questionnaires in a total of 1040 households. About one third of the households were identified as migrant households where at least a member of the household is a migrant or was once a migrant. This is a far higher figure than in many traditional migrant sending countries.
The second survey was carried out almost simultaneously in major cities in Turkey, again by considering where large Turkmen immigrant communities exist. A total of 161 questionnaires were completed most of whom were randomly selected from Iraqi Turkmen Front registers while convenience sampling was used to reach respondents in Istanbul.
In line with my conflict model of migration, Iraqi Turkmen migration is following a pattern that corresponds to lows and peaks of various conflicts and degree of intensity of conflict in Iraq over the time. Turkmen’s perception of relative security in Turkey and other destination countries in comparison to relative insecurity in Iraq is the key driver in their international migration experiences. Apparently background variables such as age, gender, income, education and employment are all playing their part in the decision making. Nevertheless, the wars Iraqis have faced and suffered from during the last two or three decades drew the line between moving and not moving as well as deciding when to move. The largest portion of outmigration took place after 1990.
It was found that Turkmen is a well-educated population with a high tendency to move abroad, particularly to Turkey due to historical and cultural ties. Possibly in response to the tightening immigration admission regimes across the board, as many as 50 per cent of all Turkmen migrants crossed borders without necessary papers or overstayed their permits and visas.
This study presents a story of an unsettled minority population in Iraq and indicates high emigration pressures felt by Turkmen. Given the current uncertainty prevailing in Iraq, one would expect many more have left since our fieldwork and many more are likely to flee their homes in the future unless a multi-ethnic peace is secured in the country.
Introduction: The Turkmen Question in Iraq
Chasing the Turkmen: The Two Surveys in the Aftermath of 2003 Invasion
International Migration Survey in Iraq
General Characteristics of the Survey Population: Turkmen in Iraq
Conceptualising Human Mobility in Conflict
Environment of Human Insecurity in Iraq
Iraqi International Migration
Iraqi Asylum Seekers
The Future of International Migration from Iraq
The Kirkuk Question and Human Mobility
Turkmen Lebensraum and Emigration from Iraq
Living Environment of Iraqi Turkmen Population
Turkmen Households’ Cultural Characteristics
Opinions and Attitudes Toward Migration and Migration Experiences
Where Did They Go? How Old Were They When They Gone?
Turkmen in Iraq Migrated Due to an Environment of Insecurity
Information About Destinations and Composition of Migrant Groups
The Diaspora: Turkmen Immigrants in Turkey