Turkomans


Turkomans
(Turkmen)
   The Turkomans apparently first entered Kurdistan around 1000 CE as part of the wave of Turkic invasions of the Middle East. During the 14th century, two rival Turkoman dynasties—the Ak Koyunlu and the Kara Koyunlu—ruled much of Kurdistan. Many of these Turkomans were qizilbash or Ale-vis who came to support the Safavid Persians against the Ottomans.
   Although population statistics are inadequate, the Turkomans today number around 500,000 and constitute the second largest ethnic minority in Iraq after the Kurds. The Turkomans themselves and Turkey (who often uses the Turkomans as a way to exercise influence in northern Iraq) claim as many as 2.5 or even 3 million, a number much too high. They are divided along many different fissures. As of 2010, most Turkomans live outside of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and under Iraqi government control.
   In 1920, ethnically diverse Kirkuk in northern Iraq still had a plurality of Turkomans. Indeed, as recently as 1958, there were more Turkomans in that city than Kurds, a factor that complicated Mulla Mustafa Barzani's claim to it. In July 1959, riots in Kirkuk involving the Kurds and communists killed some 50 Turkomans and still remain a divisive memory. During the 1920s, Turkomans also still constituted a majority along the high road between Mosul and Baghdad. Presently, the Turkomans are primarily an urban group distributed over a number of towns and cities along prominent trade arteries in northern Iraq stretching from the Syrian to the Iranian border. These include such important cities as Tel Afar, Mosul, Kirkuk, Tuz Khurmatu, Kifri, Khanaqin, and Mandali.
   Unlike the Christian Assyrians, the Turkomans did not join the Iraqi Kurdistan Front when it was created in 1988 to bring unity to the Kurdish groups fighting against the Iraqi government in northern Iraq. This was probably because the Turkomans did not want to alienate their outside protector, Turkey, and also because many Turkomans still lived under Baghdad's control. The Turkomans also did not participate in the elections that created the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in May 1992. In addition, the Iraqi Turkoman Front (ITF) — an umbrella organization for some 26 Iraqi Turkoman organizations and political groups that was both created in 1995 and funded by Turkey—was also openly hostile to the KRG. However, Shiite Turkomans (who constitute around half of the Turkoman population in Iraq) see themselves mainly as part of the Shiite community and therefore do not support the ITF, leaving it with a fairly narrow base largely among only secular nationalist Turkomans. On the other hand, some Turkomans, such as Jawdat Najar, participated in the regional KRG administration in Irbil run by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). In the KRG elections of 25 July 2009, three seats were reserved for three separate Turkoman groups in the 111-seat KRG parliament. Earlier, before the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Muzafar Arsalan, the leader of the National Turkoman Party of Iraq, served on the executive council of the opposition Iraqi National Congress. The Turkomans suffered as much as the Kurds did under Saddam Hussein.

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

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