"If you take pictures with me, the Turkmen Front will cut your salaries. It is a shame for the figures in the front," said Arshad Salihi, the former leader of the Iraqi Turkmen Front ITF and member of the Iraqi parliament representing Kirkuk.
Salihi, a key Turkmen political figure in Iraq, said in a video obtained by KirkukNow, “Look, I say if you take a picture with me, the Turkmen Front will cut your salary , well shame on them.”
“Arshad Salihi is a Turkmen Front MP, but if they threaten you, it is a shame for them. Unfortunately... you are with me and I am with you,” he said.
You are with me, and I am with you
The video, which was recorded in recent days, shows a woman shouting "We are with you" in the crowd of some of the fans. "I know you are with me, May God be pleased with you, but they should be ashamed of themselves. Let them do it with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), not with Arshad Salihi. Arshad Salihi was elected by the nation," he said.
KirkukNow could not get a comment from his office on the issue, but a senior political source in the ITF, who did not want to be named because the issue is internal, affirmed that nobody has not been punished or fired.
"He is the representative of the Turkmen Front in the Iraqi parliament. If there is such a thing, it should be discussed internally so that we have an answer, but such a matter has not happened," the source added.
On March 28, 2021, Salihi announced his resignation as leader of the Turkmen Front at a meeting of the executive committee. At the same meeting, Hassan Turan was temporarily replaced by agreement.
The Turkmen Front held local elections on May 23, 2022 and 12 people became members of the Political Bureau and Hassan Turan was elected as the leader of the Front while Salihi was not re-elected in the election and currently has no responsibilities in the Political Bureau.
The changes came more than a year after the resignation of Salihi and the appointment of Toran under an agreement with an executive committee to run the ITF.
On March 28, 2021, Arshad Salihi announced his resignation from the presidency of the ITF at a meeting of the executive committee in addition to the appointment of Toran as his replacement with two deuties.
In a statement then, the ITF said, "Arshad Salihi will devote his time to political work, building relations and negotiations for the Turkmens.”
Since these changes, there has been a deep conflict between Hassan Turan and Arshad Salihi and they have repeatedly attacked each other indirectly through the media and social networks.
Toran, former deputy leader of the ITF, was the speaker of the Kirkuk provincial council until 2014, when he became a member of parliament, but was replaced by a Turkmen woman in May 2018 general elections.
Salihi, who led the Turkmen Front for 10 years, has been the leader of the Turkmen Front faction in the past three sessions of the Iraqi parliament.
In the last Iraqi parliamentary elections on October 10, the ITF won only one seat in Kirkuk province, unlike the previous elections, which consistently had two seats.
Turkmens, the third largest ethnic group in Iraq after Arabs and Kurds, are spread across the country, residing almost exclusively in the northern towns and villages stretching from Tal Afar through Mosul, Erbil, Altun Kopri, Kirkuk, Tuz Khurmatu, Kifri and Khanaqin. They are all Muslims, half Sunnis and half Shiites.
Though there are no official records about the Turkmens in Kirkuk, Turkmen political parties say there are over 200,000 Turkmen voters in Kirkuk which has been divided into three constituencies for 12 seats in October 10th, 2021 General Elections.
Turkmen political parties have gathered only 100,000 votes in May 2018 elections in Kirkuk and has earned three seats in 2018 yet dropped to only two seats in 2021 Elections.