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The Turkmen: Eerie Silence in Northern Iraq

By B Nimri Aziz

December 1, 06

The term "Turkmen" means little to most western people, even those here who think they are up on Iraq ethnography. This is because Turkmens have not figured in media reports for reasons that will become clear. But watch for it. Iraqi Turkmen will soon demand world attention.

Iraq, for outside observers is increasingly a land of ethnic and death statistics, usually in the context of the current conflict. More and more, Iraq is debated in terms of the Sunni-Shia-Kurd formula, as if Kurd were not themselves populated by sunni and shia devotees. Forgotten are the once romanticized Marsh Arabs of the south. (For the most part, they have moved to the cities.) Christians are also set aside, as are Iraqi Jews. Iraq's Christians represent probably the earliest Christian community anywhere, and along with Iraqi Jews, demonstrate the long history of multi-faith co-existence in this part of the world. Iraqis had rightly been proud of that.

Today, upheavals resulting from the US invasion in 2003, from Zionist penetration of Iraq and the breakdown of civil order, create new and fiercely protected divisions. Christians are departing, continuing the exodus begun in the early 1990s. Jews are little heard from; if anything their numbers are increasing as Israelis, some of them of Iraqi origin, return to purchase homes and land and engage in business, if not settle here immediately.

While a terrifying power struggle and polarization goes on between Sunni and Shia in the country's center--around Baghdad, home to more than 25% of the nation's people--Iraqi Kurds, with Israel's help, are consolidating their expansion and hold in the north. They have largely escaped the upheaval across Iraq, protected in three autonomous northern governates which are somehow sheltered from the deadly forces unleashed across the rest of Iraq after 2003.

The north 'appears' stable (as far as Kurdish-speaking Iraqis are concerned); in fact, there are troubling signs of an ethnic cleansing underway. Here we return to the Turkmen Iraqis. They number close to 3 million:--12% of Iraq's people. While press attention focuses on Sunni-Shia battles, Iraq's Turkmens face a campaign of discrimination that could become very ugly and costly. Tel-Afar, a Turkmen-speaking majority Iraqi city was subject to bombardments and a crushing siege by US forces. According to Iraq Turkmen Front spokesman Orhan Ketene, "This was instigated by Kurds who called in American firepower on the claim that the city harbored foreign terrorists". (see Two years ago US air and land assaults on the scale of Falluja were carried out in Tel-Afar. A city of more than 300,000, it remains under military siege, crippled and little heard from. This, say Turkmen survivors and Ketene, is part of new Kurdish campaign to extend their sway and dominance West, beyond their traditional governates of NE Iraq.

As troubling as the terrorizing of Tel-Afar is, we also see signs of a Zionist-type settlement by Kurds in the coveted city of Kirkuk. Kirkuk is targeted as a new center for Iraqi Kurdistan. Until recently, the city was multi-ethnic, although it is identified as the center of Turkmen Iraqi society and economy. For the past 3 years, Kurds have been moving into the city at an increased pace, frightening the Turkmen residents. As with Israeli 'settlement' in the West Bank, this is a strategy of "changing the facts on the ground'. Assassinations against Kirkuk's Turkmen families have begun. Fear and tension are rising. Because the city is center of the important Kirkuk oil fields, it is a major economic prize and Kurds do not hide their ambitions for the city. Kurds, backed by Zionist and American elements, are well armed and powerfully placed in the Iraqi government. Turkmens say the ongoing settlement of tens of thousands of new residents, all of Kurdish origin, is in anticipation of a referendum on the city's fate in 2007. With a majority Kurdish population, the city could become an official Kurdish territory. It is a frightening prospect for Iraq's Turkmens.

How Turkey, long an antagonist to Kurdish sovereignty, will react, no one knows. It could be brought into the equation if Iraqi Turkmens are further threatened and find no alternative protection. They say they have been unable to interest the Occupation Authority in their fate and their rights.With the Americans hardly able to protect themselves and with the city of Baghdad out of control, US support for Turkmens appears unlikely, especially when Washington would be unwilling to confront the Israeli partners of Iraqi Kurds. American troops will one day depart. Now or after some years, it would not undo the wickedness their arrival planted.






Who are the Christians of Iraq?

Kanoon I = December

The Turkmen: Eerie Silence in Northern Iraq December 1, 06

Tishrin II = November

Plight of Iraq's Christians Gets Worse November 30, 06

Sadr Followers Target Assyrian School Girls in Baghdad November 30, 06

"Mass Grave Discovery" In Turkey As Pope Continues Tense Trip
November 30, 06

First cuneiform inscription of Rabat Tepe 2 discovered November 29, 06

Kidnapped priest released in Baghdad November 29, 06

Turkish President Vetoes Christian Property Rights Law November 29, 06

In Lebanon, a Crisis for Christians November 28, 06

Christmas presents for the Nineveh Kids November 28, 06

Sweden to Investigate Finding of Assyrian Mass Graves in Turkey
November 27, 06

Assyrian Leader in Iraq Assassinated for Advocating Assyrian Autonomy
Nov. 27, 06

Europe and the Ambiguities of Multiculturalism Nov. 26, 06

Opening Eyes To Plight Of Assyrians Nov. 25, 06

A Safe Haven for Assyrians is a Must Nov. 24, 06

‘Lies in Turkish’ Nov. 24, 06

Lebanon in shock after killing of Christian politician Nov. 22, 06

A lecture entitled "Massacres and Resistance Nov. 22, 06

Britain's House of Lords Discusses Assyrian CaseoNov. 20, 06

Baghdad: priest missing, feared kidnapped Nov. 20, 06

Kurds remove Arabs and Assyrians thru violence Nov. 19, 06

Kurdish Officials Employ Saddam Hossain's Tactics Nov. 19, 06

Nuri Kino on Swedish National TV argues the Assyrian cause Nov.18, 06

Professors Dr. Otto Jastrow and Shabo Talay are planning a Toroyo Assyrian
Language Dictionary Projec
t Nov.16, 06

Bishops, commission plead for help for Iraqi Christians Nov.15, 06

Turkey Tries to Escape Its History Nov.14, 06

Terrorists Blast Iraqi Church Nov.12, 06

The Non-reaction to the Murder of an Assyrian Priest Nov.12, 06

Turkey Gives Non-Muslims the Right to Own Property Nov.12, 06

Hermit Assyrian nun is anything but reclusive Nov.10, 06

Fresh Concern Expressed About Iraq's Assyrians Nov.10, 06

Silencing Ancient Echoes: Iraq's Christians Nov. 9, 06

The Non-reaction to the Murder of an Assyrian Priest Nov. 9, 06

Iraqi bishop calls for Christian gathering: unite to be counted and more secure
Nov. 8, 06

Proud Assyrian Survivor Can Move on Nov. 7, 06

Assyrian Genocide Victims Discovered In Turkey: Report Nov. 6, 06

Lecture by DR. DONNY GEORGE former Chairman, Board of Antiquities, Iraq
Nov. 6, 06

Assyrian areas in northern Iraq as shown in a map by Newsweek Nov. 3, 06

Church calls for action over gruesome violence toward Christians in Iraq
Nov. 2, 06

Evidence of Turkey's World War One Massacres Covered up by the Military”
Nov. 2, 06

This Was Genocide, But Armenians Were Not Its Only Victims Nov. 1, 06

Assyrian UN Delegation Calls for Autonomous Region for Iraq's Assyrians
Nov. 1, 06

Tishrin 1 = October

The West Turns a Blind Eye to the Ethnic Cleansing of Christians in Iraq
Oct. 31, 06

U.S. Bishops Call for Protection of Iraq's Christians Oct. 30, 06

Hood celebrates 150th anniversary of Assyrian reliefs Oct. 30, 06

Assyrian History On Display Oct. 29, 06

Freedom of Religion Key for All in Iraq Oct. 29, 06

14 years young Assyrian boy decapitated in Iraq Oct. 29, 06

Assyrian civic club marks 60 years Oct. 27, 06

From Discovery to Dartmouth: The Assyrian Reliefs Oct. 27, 06

Sargis Aghajan: A Saint or a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing? Oct. 26, 06

Priest Sends SOS for Christians in Iraq; Faithful Flee, Churches Close
in Baghdad

Oct. 25, 06

The World Must Speak About the ongoing Assyrian Genocide Oct. 25, 06

Iraqi Militias Conducting Ethnic Cleansing Campaign Against Baghdad's
Oct. 23, 06

Pope Urges World Leaders to Help Iraqis Rebuild Troubled Nation
Oct. 23, 06

Iraq's Christian Assyrians: Living in Fear Oct. 23, 06

Assyrians built aqueducts to bring water to Nineveh predating Romans by
400 years
.Oct. 23, 06

Hope for Assyrian Christians 'Rapidly Dying,' Says Former Iraqi Minister
Oct. 20, 06

Christians Live in Fear of Death Squads in Iraq Oct. 20, 06

Congresswoman Esho's Letter to Rice about the endengered Christians
of Iraq
Oct. 20, 06


Iraq: Christian Minority Seeks Haven From Violence Oct. 19, 06

GEORGIA: Will mob halt Assyrian Catholic centre? Oct. 19, 06

Ancient ruins inspire hope in U.S. forces in Pre-Christian Iraq . Oct. 18, 06

Christian Migration From Mid-East At Heart of Patriarchs' Meeting
Oct. 19, 06

Assyrian language Lecture and Seminar in London Oct. 19, 06

Save Us from the Time of Trial Oct. 18, 06

Persecution of non-Muslims increases in Iraq. Oct. 18, 06

In Iraq, a New Level of Threat to Christians Oct. 17, 06

World Has Forgotten Iraqi Christians: Chaldean Patriarch Oct. 16, 06

Some 500 people attend funeral of beheaded priest Oct. 16, 06

Christians are vacating land of Christ Oct. 15, 06

Threats force Iraqi Christians to flee to Syria Oct. 15, 06

Turkey starts to admit it has an ‘Armenian Question Oct. 15, 06

Some Turks change religion as way to West Oct. 14, 06

Beleaguered Yazidi find peace high in Iraq's northern mountains
Oct. 14, 06

Beheading of Iraqi priest latest attack on minorities Oct. 14, 06

Kurdish Militia Attacks Assyrian TV Station in North Iraq Oct. 13, 06

Iraq priest 'killed over pope's speech' Oct. 13, 06

More than 35,000 Christians have fled violence in Iraq Oct. 13, 06

Prominent Assyrian Priest Beheaded Oct. 12, 06

Father Paulos Iskandar Killed by Terrorist Abductors Oct. 12, 06

Who Will Remember the Assyrian Genocide? Oct. 11, 06

Abducted and raped, young Christian women and girls are driven to
suicide in Iraq
Oct. 11, 06

Was the genocide of the Ottoman Empire in1915 only against the
Armenians, or included Assyrians also?
Oct. 10, 06

Traditional Assyrian Costumes Oct. 9, 06

Organisation and Substitutionism Oct. 8, 06

A Nation Without a Country Oct. 8, 06

Swedish authorities honor Malfono Gabriel Afram Oct. 7, 06

Christian husband and wife converts from Islam released Oct. 7, 06

Terror campaign targets Christians of Iraq Oct. 6, 06

In 20 years, there will be no more Christians in Iraq' Oct. 5, 06

\FIRST-PERSON: Assyrian haircut Oct. 5, 06

The Assyrians: Ignored Among Fears of an Iraqi Civil War Oct. 4, 06

Two Iranian Christians arrested in Mashad. Oct. 4, 06

Car Bombs at the Christian Assyrian shopping district in Baghdad killed 16,
injured 87
Oct. 4, 06

30 Christian families receive threats to leave Mosul - Iraq Oct. 2, 06

Mr. Sarkis Aghajan, the Finance Minister of the Kurdistan regional
Government Asks for more rights for the Assyrians
Oct. 2, 06


August, September 06

June, July 06
March April May 06
February 06
December05 Januray 06