Iraq's Turkmen are one of the largest minorities in the country not to have formed their own militia forces, but recent remarks by a Turkmen politician suggest that that trend could shift. While the Kirkuk Police force is preparing to enroll three hundred local Turkmen, the president of the Turkmen National Party has called for the formation of a Turkmen paramilitary corps in northern Iraq.
Jamal Shan, Turkmen National Party president and a member of the executive committee of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, which holds one seat in the Iraqi Parliament, called on Thursday for the formation of a Turkmen security force organized on the level of the Turkmen areas of Iraq, or what he termed the "Turkmen homeland," al-Malaf Press writes in Arabic. Shan described an area of operation stretching from Talafar in Ninewa province in the northwest to Mandali Diyala province in the southeast. Shan said such a force would deter attacks by militias against Turkmen in Iraq, referring to acts of violence against Turkmen in Mosul, Talafar, Kirkuk, Tuz Khormatu, Diyala and other areas.
The Turkmen leader said that these attacks were committed by militias "hostile to the rights of the Turkmen and the unity of Iraq and of Iraqis," a veiled reference to Kurdish chauvinists, adding that the hostile forces "do not find the Turkmen to be an essential party in the security equation." Shan accused the central government in Baghdad and the various provincial governments of "not taking sufficient security procedures to contain these armed attacks," al-Malaf Press reports.
Shan continued to say that "the entry of the Turkmen into the security equation opens the way before them to enter the political equation" to assure their "legitimate national rights as an essential component" of Iraqi society.
"Turkmen citizens have sufficient technical and professional resources to form these security forces after seeking agreements with the agencies concerned," he added.
Meanwhile, the Kirkuk police said they have opened spaces for the enrollment of a limited number of Turkmen Kirkukis to the provincial force. In the contested oil-rich province, Col. Barhan Habib, head of the new recruits committee in the local police force announced that 300 Turkmen would be enrolled into the force to work within its ranks in all areas of the governorate.
Habib explained that the police directorate had limited the number of volunteers because of the residential density in the Turkmen-populated areas, which prompted the force to cap the enrollments to 300 total from the areas of Daquq, Banfas, Nawahi, Taza, Yayji, Laylan, Bashir, as well as the Kubri area, an area of mixed Sunni and Shi'a Turkmen population.
Potential cadets were advised to appear for review at the Kirkuk Police training facility starting Wednesday of this week through March 5th. "Those accepted will under go an intensive training routine before they are distributed into the security units."
Turkmen of the province have claimed that their community has been shut out of the Kurdish-dominated local government. Turkmen and Kurdish leaders met earlier this week to discuss the possibility of ending a boycott by the Turkmen parties of the Kirkuk provincial council. A proposal to install a Turkmen vice-governor was rejected by the local bloc of Arab parties (who ended their boycott of the body last year), and negotiations are still underway.
Meanwhile, heavy security measures were underway in Kirkuk to protect the headquarters of the various Turkmen parties, as tensions were heightened during the Turkish invasion ostensibly targeting the Kurdistan Workers Party in the north of Iraq.
Policemen and military machinery were visible in front of the offices of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, al-Malaf Press writes, and checkpoints were raised around the headquarters during the recent Turkish operations in the north of Iraq as some extremist Kurds have accused Iraqi Turkmen of aiding the invading Turkish forces.