THE LEGISLATIVE ELECTION CAMPAIGN IN TURKMENELI (IRAQ)

3 QUESTIONS TO DR. HASSAN AYDINLI, ITF EU REPRESENTATIVE

BY FRENCH WRITER AND JOURNALIST MR. GILLES MUNIER

 

The Iraqi Turkmen Front, a political organization composed of several parties and Turkmen civil associations,  presided by Dr. Sadettin Ergeç
 .  The Iraqi Turkmen Front presents its own list in the provinces of Erbil and Suleymaniya, everywhere else in Iraq, the Iraqi Turkmen Front has entered in coalition with the Iraqiya list, led by Mr. Iyad Allaoui.
-The Islamic Union of Iraqi Turkmens, party presided by Mr. Abbas al-Bayati.  It presents its candidates and has entered  in coalition with the list of Dawlat al-Kanoun, led by Nouri al-Maliki.
-The AlKarar al Turkmani party, presided by Mr. Farook Abdullah, is also part of the Dawlat al-Kanoun coalition of Nouri al-Maliki.
-The Türkmeneli party, presided by Mr. Riyad Sarikahya presents itself in the elections in the coalition led by Ammar al-Hakim, Head of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council.
-The Turkmen Sadrist Movement of Mr. Fawzi Akrem Terzi,  is also part of the Ammar al-Hakim coalition.  He is head  of the list in the province of Erbil.
-The Adalat Turkmen party, presided by Mr. Anwar Bayrakdar has entered in the Al-Tawafuk Al-Iraqi  coalition of Usama Tawfiq Mukhlif.
As for the other so-called ‘Turkmen’ parties which present themselves at the upcoming elections, they are three.  They are all in the Kurdish  coalition Barzani + Talabani.  I neither wish to remember their names nor say anything whatsoever about them.  For us, these are “cartoon parties”, i.e. fabricated by the Kurds in order to divide the Turkmens and assimilate those who are under their control or who are employed by them.
 
        What are their main demands
The main demands of the six parties I mentioned are:
-To preserve the unity of Iraq.
-For Iraqi Turkmens  to be recognized as the third main ethnic community in Iraq, with LEFTs and duties equal to those of the Arabs and Kurds in Iraq, namely:  the recognition of the Turkmen language (Turkish) as the third official language of the country;  the effective participation of the Turkmen community at all levels of power in Iraq, by the inclusion of their political representatives in the supreme institutions which govern the country, such as the Presidential Council, Government Council,  Parliamentary Presidency, Supreme Council of Justice, Chief of Staff of the Army, of the Police and of the Security.  Turkmens have been excluded from these institutions since the invasion of Iraq, as the political power,  under the anglo-american occupation, from 9th April 2003, has been attributed on an ethnic-sectarian basis  and exclusively to the parties who collaborated with the Occupiers (Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis).
-Either modify the Iraqi constitution or write a new modern constitution compatible with our time, eliminating the absurd terminologies which have been included in the present constitution, namely the contested territories and the obsolete articles, such as Article 140 which concerned the future of Kerkuk Province,  re-named Al-Tamim by the former regime in 1972.  The central question is the future and belonging of its capital, Kerkuk, with its enormous oil reserves, which has been historically and culturally Turkmen for over 8 centuries.
It is necessary to remember  that Kerkuk has been subjected to two successive policies of ethnic modifications during the past four decades: a planned  and systematic arabization policy and ethnic modification in favour of the Arabs by the previous regime between 1968 and 2003; then a planned kurdification and ethnic modification in favour of the Kurds.  The latter has been more extended, more rapid and more violent than the former.  It started on 10th April 2003 when the militias of the Kurdish parties “Peshmerga” of Barzani and Talabani occupied Kerkuk with authorization and complicity of the U.S. invasion forces.
 
-To obtain cultural autonomy for the Turkmens of Iraq in their region, i.e. in the region known as Türkmeneli,  where the Turkmens constitute the majority,  and which is situated between the region mainly inhabited by Arabs and the region with a Kurdish majority. Türkmeneli stretches from Tel Afer, at the West of Mosul,  until Bedre,  at the East of Bagdad.
 -To recuperate all the properties and agricultural lands belonging to the Turkmens which have been confiscated by the previous regime and which have not yet been liberated or returned.
-To recuperate all the properties and agricultural lands belonging to the Turkmens which have been occupied and confiscated by the Kurdish militias since 10th April 2003.
-To liberate Iraq from foreign occupation forces.
-To make Iraq a unified, democratic and modern country, where all citizens will be equal.
 
            What about the situation in Kerkuk
The present situation in Kerkuk, which continues since 10th April 2003, is neither satisfying nor acceptable for the Turkmens.  Since that date, Barzani and Talabani have been authorized, for their collaboration with the Occupier, to install their Peshmerga and over 600.000 individuals coming from the autonomous Kurdish region, in order to modify the demographics of the city.  Among them, some  non-Iraqi Kurds…  This intolerable situation is also denounced by the Arabs of Kerkuk.
 
If the new electoral law has been so difficult to be voted, it is because it has been contested by the Turkmens and Arabs of Kerkuk. This is why  the election results for the Province will only be valid for one year.  They will be conditioned to the verification of the authenticity of the voters’ lists established by the Kurdish authorities.  If it appears that they have been exaggerated in favour of the Kurds, a new list will be established and new legislative elections will take place in Kerkuk Province.
 We, Turkmens, hope that the legislative elections of 7th March 2010, which will take place according to the principle of open lists, will bring to the Parliament a majority of patriotic and more nationalist Iraqis, who will be less sectarian.  We hope that they will maintain Kerkuk in a unified Iraq.  Finally, we hope that the new majority will categorically reject  the unjustified hegemonic demands of the Kurds over the city and over the so-called “other contested territories” in Iraq.
 
 
Note: the above is the English translation of the interview in French which was published in Irak Actualité on 2nd February 2010: http://www.france-irak-actualite.com/article-irak-campagne-electorale-en-pays-turkmene-44102360.html