The Turkmens, being one of the main nationalities of Iraq, have long suffered at the hands of the chauvinist regimes since the creation of the Iraqi state.
The state sponsored discrimination reached its climax during the former regime.
Turkmens were eager to replace this cruel regime with a democratic, pluralistic and a tolerant one. Therefore, they participated in all Iraqi opposition meetings in exile.
However, among the opposition, they faced another challenge; they were always denied their rightful place within the command structure. The denial was coming from the main minority which itself was complaining of discrimination at the hands of the former regime.
Generally, those meetings were marred with tricks and intrigues of one or more of the parties that monopolized power in exile activities.
Nevertheless, Americans, being the main sponsor of the movement for regime change, gave us the hope that after the fall of the regime, the U.S. will never allow another discrimination system to establish in Iraq.
Therefore, Turkmens had the feeling that “after the liberation”, every thing will be okay! The U.S. showed its good intention by including the ITF in the official and recognized opposition groups and we were invited in almost all meetings sponsored by the State Dept.
Unfortunately, thing s didn’t go as we wished. After the fall of Baghdad and despite all assurances, Kerkuk, Mosul and other Northern towns were overrun by Kurdish militias. They have been the de facto rulers of the North ever since. All this was done under the watchful eyes and the approval of the U.S.
To give legitimacy to the status-quo, an election was staged on January 30, 2005 in which the biggest fraud in the history of Iraq was committed in the North.
Hundreds of thousands of Turkmens and Assyrians were prevented from voting and hundreds of thousands of Turkmen votes were exchanged with Kurdish ones. Thus, Turkmen and Assyrian representation stayed at symbolic levels.
The reconstruction projects are generally given to Kurdish companies. Kerkuk, the center of the oil wealth, is still the most run down city in the North. The Kurdish administrators’ greatest focus is to change the demography of Kerkuk and to include it in their dreamland “Kurdistan”. This desire is fiercely opposed by all Turkmens, Assyrians and Arabs.
If Iraq was invaded by a despotic and authoritarian country, we wouldn’t expect any justice or democracy. But being invaded by the United States of America, who promised to bring equality, justice, democracy and pluralism to Iraq, we expect the fulfillment of those promises.
So far all administrational procedures and processes implemented and applied in Iraq, had been a disappointment for the minorities. Our final say is “Deeds not Words”.
Orhan Ketene is Iraqi Turkmen Front U.S. Representative