Until the elections in 2010 the Turkmens who have not been effective in the Iraq policy and who were put out of action in the process of restructuring of Iraq began to take important steps. Particularly, in pursuit of the formation of new government, an observable increase is being talked about in Turkmen policy. After the general elections on 7 March 2011 in Iraq, the Turkmens who gained 10 deputies and 3 ministries seem to be risen from the ashes. The Turkmens who were maybe most influenced by the political polarization and the corruption within the state, managed to make their voice heard especially with the last moves by the Iraqi Turkmen Front. The Turkmens started to take part in Iraq policy, under the leadership of Arshad al-Salihi who became and eminent figure in the Turkmen politics as of the day when he returned to Iraq from Syria. Salihi was at first as the head of Kirkuk province of Turkmen Front and he was elected the head of Iraqi Turkmen Front in May,. The Iraqi Turkmen Front has been undergoing a reorganization, which is evident in both management structure and policy strategy.
At first, the new management of Iraqi Turkmen Front that gathered Ali Haşim Muhtaroğlu, Ali Mehdi and Hasan Turan who were prominent in the Turkmen politics and who put their signature under high affairs in their position, initiated politics in the whole ofIraq. The Iraqi Turkmen Front which was able to meet even with Kurdish group with whom it has conflicted for so long without giving up fundamental principles, took the first fruits of this by assigning Hasan Turan to the Presidency of provincial assembly which was the right legally obtained. The Iraqi Turkmen Front, which has ceased its formal activities in Arbil that was in the control of the Kurdish Regional Government since 2003 when the United States intervened Iraq, made an application so as to open its office again in Arbil. This application seems to create a positive atmosphere among Arbil that is at the mercy of Kurdish Regional management and the Turkmens who lives in Sulaymaniyah and Duhok. It is known that the workshops held in Arbil and Sulaymaniyah by the Iraqi Turkmen Front during the second half of July attracted great attention. Besides, Aydın Maruf, the member of Executive Council of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, visited the Sulaymaniyah office of PUK. On the same day of this visit, Arshad al-Salihi, the head of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, meet with the head of PUK, Jalal Talabani. On the other hand, The Kurdistan Conservative Party invited the Iraqi Turkmen Front to its second congress by sending an official invitation. In December 2010, KCP had invited the Iraqi Turkmen Front to its congress with an official invitation as well.
Besides, Erbil is one of the provinces that Turkmens is the most dense. The Turkmen population in Erbil is even said to be able to compete with the Turkmen population in Kerkuk. However it is known that, considering the political and social structure of the Kurdish Regional Government, the Turkmens living in this region have so far had troubles expressing their identities. But the Iraqi Turkmen Front focusing again on Erbil can be interpreted to be an important step which can change the balance for the Turkmen policy. This is important for the Turkmen people to raise their voices more in politics.
On the other hand, the Iraqi Turkmen Front is also opening new offices in the south of Iraq. As is known, there are Turkmens who live in Iraq belonging to Shia as well as Sunni sects of Islam. Much as there is no distinction of Sunni-Shiite amongst Turkmens, the sectarian tension in Iraq is known to affect the Turkmens as well. Although the situation has got better now, the Telafar events are still remembered. But the Turkmens have exhibited an attitude by reuniting which should be taken example by Iraq. The Iraqi Turkmen Front carried out a more inclusive policy and opened an office in Najaf too. It even built a dorm of 40 persons to shelter more than 100 Turkmen teens who are studying in the madrasahs in Najaf. Furthermore, they are trying to build relations with large Shiite political groups in Iraq. On 12 July, Hasan Turan, Iraqi Turkmen Front Executive Board Member and Head of Kirkuk Province Assembly visited Ammar Al-Hakim, the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and demanded support regarding the constitutional rights of both Kerkuk and Turkmens. Taking account of the significance of the Shiite groups in Iraqi politics after 2003, Iraqi Turkmen Front building relations with Shiite groups could make the Turkmens an important milestone in Iraqi politics. Yet in view of the Shiites` effect in Iraq, one should not ignore Iran. Within this framework, Iraqi Turkmen Front President Arshad Al-Salihi and the committee`s visit to Iran is quite important. This visit is important not only for taking the support of Shiites in Iraq but also to enhance the vision of the Iraqi Turkmen Front. The Iraqi Turkmen Front`s announce to visit other neighbor countries to Iraq in the next period shows that the Turkmens have higher aims now.
These steps taken by Iraqi Turkmen Front are giving hope for the future of the Turkmen politics. Besides, the results in accordance with the gains acquired recently in the Iraqi politics and political moves also show that Turkmens could become more influential in Iraqi politics in the next period. In this point, it is best to talk about a few issues. Firstly, after it was learnt that the Turkmens weren`t included in the information given in the Iraq introduction part in the Iraq Ministry of Foreign Affairs website about the population living in the country, removal of these data as a result of enormous effort of Turkmen deputies and despite the removal of the data by following the situation, the demand for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to apologize from the Turkmen people are also important. On the other hand, the first step about the abduction events in Kerkuk was taken by Iraqi Turkmen Front. On 27 July, the Iraqi Turkmen Front President and Kerkuk deputy Arshad Al-Salihi presented a memorandum to the parliament on behalf of the Turkmen deputies. In the memorandum, it was demanded from the parliament to exhibit an attitude due to its reputation, to debate these issues in the parliament and for a committee to visit Kerkuk and investigate the events in order to fully understand them. After the memorandum a committee of research was created in the parliament. Although these examples didn`t cause large effects politically in Iraq, they are important steps for the Turkmen policy. Maybe for the first time since the Article 23 of the Local Elections Regulations for Kerkuk was removed, Turkmens succeeded in being influential in Iraqi politics. Yet there is a point which needs to be underlined. All those developments shouldn`t show everything in the Turkmen policy through rose-coloured glasses. Big steps bring about big responsibilities. What is important for those steps is to reach a successful point. The Turkmen people have high expectations from the politicians, too. Especially recently, these expectations seem to get even higher. At this point, it must be said that the Turkmen politicians should take the priorities of the people into account as well and act in this way. Otherwise, the slippery slope in Iraq can turn the Turkmen policy, which is just getting back on the track, upside down.
Source: Anatolia Daily