Iraqi Turkmens Demand Buffer Zone from the UN

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Arshad Salihi, the leader of Iraqi Turkmen Front, informed that the Iraqi Turkmen Front has just applied Nikolai Miladinov, UN representative in Iraq, for a buffer zone in Iraq, which will provide a safe zone between Turkmens and ISIS.

As ISIS keeps invading the Turkmen area in Iraq, Turkmen groups started to take precaution for their safety. Arshad Salihi applied UN representative in Iraq, so as to have a buffer zone, where the air zone will also be banned for flights. After submiting the letter of application to the UN representative in Baghdat, Salihi answered the questions of journalists in Kerkuk.

Reminding that some parts of Turkmen area, which also includes Mosul, are seized and controlled by ISIS, Salihi said that they are worried about the breakup of the Turkmen region in Iraq, and pointed out: “We are between ISIS and Peshmarga. Both Peshmarga and Iraqi government don’t want Turkmens to take up arms to defend themselves. Now we are armless, which is the responsibility of Iraqi government. They always want Turkmens to be weak, unarmed, poor and accepting the policy applied on them. However, we also see ourselves as responsible for this. We could have broken up this policy with our own opportunities and means. The explosions continue in Kerkuk, but it is remarkable that those explosions are just on the districts of Turkmens. And only the Turkmen authorities are targeted with the explosions. Our latest loss was Münir Kafili, who was one of the leading members of Iraq Turkmen Front, and suicided with a bomb. A few days ago, we witnessed several explosions here. It is apparent that some circles try to plan ethnic cleansing on Turkmens.”

Arshad Salihi poited out that Turkmen areas are tried to be converted into a theater of war such as Gaza or Palestine, and he said: “Since 1948, the policy of cleansing Palestinians from their country has been applied by Israel. Now, the same way, Turkmens are swept away from these lands. The unknown circles seize our lands with civil wars and cause our people to leave their lands. In this area, Turkmens were always ignored by the world. In 1991, when the Iraqi government played a bad role on Kurds, the world supported Kurdish people. And the act 688 was activated by the UN for the Kurdish. The UN supported them, so they constituted their own assembly, established their own economy, and strengthened their power by taking up arms. They protected their own identity in Iraq, and now they want to seperate from Iraq as an independent state. On the other hand, we can’t ignore millenary history of Turkmens in Iraq. We are not the remnants of Turkish Empire here. We were here before the Ottoman Empire; Seljuk Turks were our ancerstors before the Ottoman Empire, and now we are still the settlers of here. We are determined that we will not leave these lands. Therefore, we demand for a buffer zone from the UN. It is apparent that the refugee Turkmens migrate to the south of Iraq, but possibly they will not be able to return their home back. To protect their rights, we need a project supported by the UN as well. I submited the letter of demand to the representative of UN in Iraq, and now they are responsible for it. If Turkmens are slaughtered in this lands, both Iraqi and Kurdish governments are responsible for that. We are still hopeful for the buffer zone in Turkmen areas.”

Arshad Salihi also pointed out that they are against the annexation of Kerkuk province into Kurdish area. He also said: “Both Turkmens and Kurdish people need mutual assistance from each other, and at this moment, it is wrong to create a fight circle in Kerkuk. If they try to seize Kerkuk by weapons and force, it certainly causes a fight between Turkmens and Kurds. We should decide it by negotiation. In an undemocratic environment, referandum is not confidential in Kerkuk. Unrest should be avoided in Kerkuk, which might cause fight between Turkmens and Kurds.”

“We are not against the existence of Peshmarga if they protect Turkmens against the ISIS. However, if they plan to stay in Kerkuk after the safety is provided,  we are against this. If the Iraqi army will not come back to Kerkuk, then we should contitute a common unit of Turkmens, Arabs and Kurds to protect here.” He also pointed out the casualties of Turkmes: “At least 350.000 Turkmens refuged away from their countries, and hundreds of them were killed during the conflicts. And most of key persons were suicided by unknown circles.”

In Kerkuk, an armed force called “Akıncılar”, which is related to the Iraqi Turkmen Front, protects the Turkmen districts.

Revised from the news of DHA, 05.08.2014

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