Iraqi Turkmen under threat
Although Saddam Hussein regime fell 12 years ago, Iraqi Turkmen still have to fight not only for their rights, but for their survival.
When Iraq was affected by conflicts in 1991, Iraqi Turkmen took an active part in the war against Saddam Hussein. The power of the Iraqi dictator fell in 2003. However, the situation of the Turkmen seems to only get worse.
Like all the other ethnic and faith-based minorities of Iraq and Syria, Turkmen have become a target for ISIS radicals who started their invasion in the summer of 2014. Shooting war between the Kurds and Takfiris takes place on the traditionally Turkmen territories. Some of the places, populated mostly by the Turkmen, are still under the ISIS fighters’ control. The town called Tal Afar is one of them.
The Turkmen disagree with each other as far as cooperation with the Kurds is concerned. It might seem natural that the Iraqi Kurds who managed to create their own state should enter into alliance with the Turkmen. Yet, some Turkmen politicians worry that they can turn out to be Erbil’s stooge. The organization called “Higher Commission for Turkmen survival” passed an official statement to accuse Kurdish authorities of Turkmen discrimination. Some say that Saddam Hussein regime was more humane than the Kurds’ power. The Kurds seem to expand their territory in every imaginable way.
Turkmen parties do not share the same approach with regard to a number of issues. For example, “Iraqi Turkmen front” and the party “Hak” tend to keep a distance from the religious group “Islamic Union of Iraqi Turkmen”. As opposed to other groups, “Turkmen national association” strongly supports the Kurds. However, when it comes to practice, nobody seems to advocate the interests of the Turkmen minority.
It is also worth noting that Turkey have supported the Turkmen for quite a while. Turkey organized military training for the Turkmen before ISIS emerged on the political scene. However, Turkey does not support the Turkmen anymore. It would not be reasonable to rely on Turkey now as its main priority is the economic interests and the position of the Sunni Muslims. It is due to economic considerations that Erdogan makes a compromise with the Iraqi Kurds who gave up on the Syrian support and started selling their oil to Turkey.
Iraqi Turkmen turned out to be in quite a tricky situation. Neither part of the Syrian-Iraqi conflict is willing to consider their rights. Turkmen military groups joined the national mobilization force supported by the Iraq government. However, it is quite likely that official Baghdad will handle the minority groups without mittens. The Turkmen fell into a trap and it is not that easy to get out of it.