Turkey supports formation of an official Turkmen military unit in Iraq
Following a string of violence against Turkmen, the Turkmen community is calling, with Turkish support, for the formation of a military unit to protect themselves.
The Turkish government recently revealed that the Turkmen of Iraq have asked Turkey to support them in forming a military unit. Turkey responded to the request positively and said it will do whatever is within its power to legally establish the unit.
A Turkish official told the Hurriyet, a Turkish daily, that since the Iraqi central government could not protect Turkmen’s life, the community has the right to protect themselves. “What is happening in the Turkmen areas is an attempt at ethnic cleansing aimed at the Turkmen identity,” the Turkish official said.
According to the Turkish Advisor for Middle East Affairs, Turkey is deeply concerned about violence directed at the Turkmen minority in Iraq and is monitoring the situation very carefully. He added that Baghdad is currently little interested in protecting the Turkmen, and that there is a plot afoot to force the Turkmen to leave their ancestral homeland.
He stated that if the police and Iraqi troops cannot protect Turkmen, then it is their right to take steps to protect themselves. He confirmed that the Turkish government had urged them to pursue their case by legal means, but acknowledges that the situation is complicated and there is no guarantee of security in Turkmen neighborhoods.
Following the recent violence targeting the Turkmen community in the district of Touz Khormatu, the Iraqi government is trying to calm the situation down. The latest violence in Khormatu left many people killed, including the deputy head of the Turkmen Front, and dozens injured when suicide bombers blew themselves up among protestors staging a rally seeking improved security.
Touz Khormatu lies within a tract of territory which the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) wants to incorporate into its three-province region, despite Baghdad’s objections.