New ‘Turkmen armed force’ concerns Kurds

August 9, 2018 at 10:53 am

Kirkuk, September 2017, Kirkuk Citadel from seen from the marketplace of the city, where the flags of Iraq, Kurdistan Region and Turkmens are waiving. Photo: The Guardian

Kirkuk, September 2017, Kirkuk Citadel from seen from the marketplace of the city, where the flags of Iraq, Kurdistan Region and Turkmens are waiving. Photo: The Guardian

Goran Baban – Kirkuk
Although Turkmen Front rejects the allegation, the head of the Kirkuk Governorate Council claims to have intelligence that they have already “trained soldiers” to create a paramilitary force beyond the remit of the law.
The allegation started weeks ago, where mostly Kurdish officials warned of such a move by the Turkmen Front, saying such a step threatens peace and stability of the province.
The head of the Kirkuk branch of the Turkmen Front, Qasim Qazanchi, rejects such allegations, “Some parties bring this about to cover their rigging of the election.”
Turkmen Front was adamant that PUK had rigged the election results in Kirkuk, which turned into a month-long protest and the decision of the manual recount of 12 May 2018 votes took place.
While the head of the Security Committee at Kirkuk Governorate Council, who is a PUK member as well, Azad Jabari, claims to have intelligence “Turkey helps the Turkmen Front to form an armed force and trained 600 people.”

We have a Turkmen Mobilisation Force for three years. Other than that, we don’t have any paramilitary militias.

Each militant has a monthly due of 400 US dollars, he claimed, Turkey has a history of arming that specific party.
Jabari is not the first or only Kurdish official to make such a claim.

Kirkuk, 29 March 2017, the protest of Turkmen component against raising Kurdish flag. Photo: KirkukNow

Kirkuk, 29 March 2017, the protest of Turkmen component against raising Kurdish flag. Photo: KirkukNow

Shwan Dawoudi, a Kurdish official and a former parliamentarian of PUK said they “monitor every move of the [formed Turkmen] force”. He said the force was formed after 16 October 2017, when the federal raid happened on Kirkuk. PUK has warned various parties of its danger, and he said, “Turkey plays a negative role in complicating the issue of Kirkuk.”
Turkey has always been interested in Kirkuk. In April 2017, the president of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan said concerning the issue of Kirkuk in an interview, “We believe that Kirkuk is historically a Turkmen city, but there are also Kurds and Arabs. Kirkuk is no one’s city but everyone’s.”
Turkey is yet to respond to the allegations of forming such a force in Kirkuk.

Turkmen Front formed an armed force and trained 600 people

However, the Turkmen Front and Turkey have always enjoyed good ties, to the extent when Erdogan won the presidency this year, and the Turkmen Front expressed their joy to KirkukNow.
Qazanchi says they have a right to have an armed force “as any other component in Iraq”. However, they have asked for a joint force among the components of Kirkuk to protect the civilians, “Our request was unheeded by the Iraqi government.”

Kirkuk, August 2017, one of the crowded markets of the city near the citadel. Photo: Binar Sardar

Kirkuk, August 2017, one of the crowded markets of the city near the citadel. Photo: Binar Sardar

The article 9 of the Iraqi constitution forbids forming any force beyond the legal framework of the Iraqi defence system.
Hakim Hamdi Gli, an expert in security, claims that the allegations are “weak”. However, he said Turkey might help the Turkmen Front ” regarding logistics”.
There is a broader regional conflict, which reflects on Kirkuk more vividly. The Popular Mobilisation Forces raided the city on 16 October 2017, under the decree of the government. The force, then a paramilitary, has been accused of implementing Iran’s agenda. Turkey, in response, attempts to exert influence on the city through its allies. Gli said, “Considering its national and security strategy, Turkey attempts to strengthen its position in Kirkuk, as in Mosul and its environs.”

There is a broader regional conflict, which reflects on Kirkuk more vividly

Such attempts, Gli said, are dangerous for the future of the disputed territories as they may lead to sectarian or ethnic warfare.

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