Excerpt of Article published in Deutsche Welle:


The Turkmen model



The Iraqi Turkmen Front are calling for a decentralized form of government


Hundreds of turquoise flags on lampposts and balconies challenge the hegemonic grey to remind us that the Turkmens are the majority in the Tarik Baghdad neighborhood, a district in southwest Kirkuk. In Kirkuk there are tens of thousands of descendants of the former Ottoman merchants scattered along the Silk Road.

According to the city's last census, conducted by the British in 1957, Turkmens number around half a million, the largest ethnic group in Kirkuk after the Kurds.

Arshad al Salihi is chairman of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, the main political party of the Iraqi Turkmen, and also a member of parliament in Baghdad.

"The Turkmen have suffered both Saddam's Arabization campaigns and those of at the hands of the Kurds. The inhabitants of the citadel of Kirkuk have always been Turkmen while the Kurds came from the surrounding villages," says Salehi.

"Kirkuk, Baghdad, Ramadi ... all these districts should work as small federal entities within a decentralized Iraq. It is the only formula that fits the complex diversity of the country," he explains .

Nonetheless, Salihi also acknowledges that certain Turkmen sectors would favour integrating into the Kurdish Autonomous Region. The conditions, though, are clear. "There must be Turkmens in high rank positions, Turkmen culture and language must be supported and we have to retrieve the areas stolen by the Kurds."



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