Turkmen party criticizes Baghdad after being overlooked in Iraqi govt. ministerial posts

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Sangar Ali
Turkmen party criticizes Baghdad after being overlooked in Iraqi govt. ministerial posts
Demonstrators in Istanbul wave Turkish and Iraqi Turkmen flags during a protest against the independence referendum in Kirkuk, Sep. 17, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)
Kirkuk Iraq Kurdistan Baghdad Turkmen

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi Turkmen Front on Friday expressed its concerns over not having been given any ministerial positions in the new Iraqi federal government headed by Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi.

The Iraqi Turkmen Front, the largest Turkmen party in Iraq, held a meeting in Baghdad on Friday to discuss the latest developments in the country, especially the current situation in the disputed province of Kirkuk.

The party, in a statement issued on Friday evening, expressed its surprise and disappointment with Iraqi political parties for failing to assign “any key ministerial post” to the ethnic minority group as part of a “national and electoral entitlement.”

The Turkmen Front, with its stronghold in Kirkuk, won three seats in the Iraqi Parliamentary election, which was held on May 12 this year.

The party also called on all parliamentary blocs “to reconsider their positions on the [ethnic minority], which fought to defend the unity of Iraq.”

The Turkmen Front, along with Arab parties in Kirkuk, was a key supporter of Baghdad restoring control over Kirkuk and other disputed areas.

“The weakening of the Turkmen component and the position of the Turkmen front will have serious consequences for the national cohesion and the rights of Turkmen,” the statement added.

The party, which presents itself as the representative for the Turkmen minority, has been supported by Turkey for many years, but it is unclear whether the support will continue after senior leaders of the party, including Hassan Turan, the party’s deputy head, failed to gain enough votes to secure a seat in Baghdad.

Among Turkmen leaders, only Arshad Salihi, the head of the party, won a seat in Baghdad while the other two Turkmen lawmakers were newcomers to the political field in the ethnically diverse city of Kirkuk.

Kirkuk is located in the south of the Kurdistan Region and north of Iraq. It is a multi-ethnic region with a diverse religious background, made up of Kurds, Turkmen, Arabs, and Christians. Kurds account for the majority of the population.

Last October, in response to the Kurdistan Region’s historic independence referendum, Iraqi forces and the Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias attacked Kurdish Peshmerga in Kirkuk and other disputed areas, ousting the Kurdish forces that had previously fought alongside them in the war against the Islamic State (IS).

Editing by Nadia Riva