Iraqi Turkmen Front

Iraqi Turkmen Front
Irak Türkmen Cephesi
İraq Türkman Cəbhəsi
الجبهة التركمانية العراقية
al-Jabha al-Turkmaniya al-Iraqiya
President Erşad Salihi
Spokesperson Ali Sadık Mehdi
Honorary Leader Sadettin Ergeç
Deputy President Hasan Turan
Founded April 24, 1994
Headquarters Kirkuk
Ideology Regionalism
Iraqi Turkmens' interests
Turkish nationalism
Political position Centre
Colours Blue
Seats in the Council of Representatives of Iraq:
5 / 325

The Iraqi Turkmen Front (Turkish: Irak Türkmen Cephesi, Azerbaijani: İraq Türkman Cəbhəsi, Arabic: الجبهة التركمانية العراقية al-Jabha al-Turkmāniya al-Irāqiya) is a political movement founded in 1995 which seeks to represent the Iraqi Turkmen people. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the ITF has contested control of Kirkuk and other areas of northern Iraq.[1] The ITF claims that Kirkuk belongs to the Turkmen people although they compose only 13-17 percent of the population.[2]

The ITF claims a region named Turkmeneli (literally meaning the "land of the Turkmens"[3]) as the homeland of the Iraqi Turkmens. Turkmeneli includes within its boundaries Kirkuk, Tel Afar, Erbil, Mandali, Mosul, and Tuz Khormato.[4][3] However, Tel Afar and Tuz Khormatio are the only cities where Turkmens are majority and despite their claim, the Iraqi Army and Peshmerga (Kurdish Army) have not allowed them to form their own militia and take control of the areas where they live.[5]

During the 2014, Northern Iraq offensive, the Iraqi Army fled from Kirkuk. Peshmerga then took the city. Kirkuk is currently controlled militarily by the security forces of the Kurdish Regional Government, although it is administered separately from Iraqi Kurdistan.

Currently, the ITF plays an active role in the ongoing Iraqi insurgency and fight against the Islamic State to defend the claimed region of Turkmeneli (especially Kirkuk and surroundings) and the Iraqi Turkmen population living inside.[6]

ITF composition

The ITF is a coalition of the following political parties:

Election results

In the Iraqi legislative election, December 2005, the ITF list (#630) polled 76,434 votes, or 0.7% nationwide, according to the uncertified published results. The overwhelming majority of those votes were cast in Kirkuk Province, where the ITF won more than 10% of the total. Most of the rest of the ITF's votes were in Salah ad Din province. According to the full official results of that election, the ITF is entitled to only one seat in the permanent National Assembly. The party has been funded deeply by the Turkish administration and military.[1]

In the aftermath of the first Iraqi parliamentary election in 2005, the ITF lodged a number of formal complaints to the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq alleging vote fraud on the part of the Kurdish parties and protesting the Commission's decision to allow Kurdish internally displaced persons and refugees to vote in the places from which they had been expelled under Saddam Hussein. In the election, they received just over 90,000 votes, or 1.1% of votes cast, earning them three seats in the transitional National Assembly of Iraq.

In the 2009 Iraqi Kurdistan legislative election, most Turkmens boycott the elections. The ITF polled just 7,077 votes, or 0.38% of the popular vote, winning 1 seat.

In the 2010 Iraqi national elections, the ITF has entered into an alliance with the Iraqi National Movement (Iraqiya) in the Governorate of Kirkuk. Iyad Allawi's Iraqiya List which the ITF candidates have taken part in, has won the elections in the governorate over the list of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in total votes. The ITF candidate in the Turkmen stronghold of Kirkuk, Erşad Salihi, won 59,732 votes all by himself. This was second only to Khalid Shwani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, who won 68,522 votes. The other candidates of ITF who have entered the parliament from ITF lists and different lists were as following, Erşad Salihi (Kirkuk), Jale Çiftçi (Kirkuk), İzzettin Devle (Mosul) who was appointed as the Minister of Agriculture, Nebil Harbo (Mosul), Müdrike Ahmet (Mosul) and Hasan Özmen (Diyala) and 4 more including Turhan Müftü who was appointed as the Minister of the Governorates. The ITF has won a total of 127,989 votes in general in Iraq, increasing their total vote cast by 34,600.[7]

ITF has decided to enter the latest Kurdish Regional Government Elections which took place in late 2013, too. ITF has made up one list and got the highest vote in Erbil making Aydın Maruf the ITF Turkmen member of parliament from Erbil in KRG Parliament.[8]

In the latest Iraqi parliamentary election in 2014, the ITF has protected its total parliament member count of 10 and protecting the number of their directly elected number of candidates from ITF-Turkmen lists(without alliances) but also increasing the total number of ITF parliamenters to 3,[9] as a result of the victory of the ITF member who participated in Muttahidun Lil'Islah List, Hena Asğar, in Tuz Khormato, a major Turkmen settlement located in the Tooz District of the Governorate of Saladin.[10] ITF tried hard to make all Turkmens cast their votes but they couldn't change the situation a lot, when compared to the previous elections and the ISIL advance in Iraq was shown as the main reason for this.[9] The movement's leader Erşad Salihi(Kirkuk) and deputy Hasan Turan(Kirkuk) has been elected as members of parliament from ITF's own list; Kirkuk Turkmen Front List, headed by party's deputy Hasan Turan.[11] ITF's, Kirkuk Turkmen Front List was the second in the Governorate of Kirkuk, winning 71,492 votes, nearly 13% of the total votes in Kirkuk Governorate. Although there was a second Turkmen list named Kirkuk Turkmen Alliance, participating in elections in Kirkuk;[11] the votes of ITF in Kirkuk have increased about 3,000 when compared to the received votes of ITF candidates in the 2010 elections.[7] The total vote received by Turkmen lists, nevertheless it was almost fully received by the ITF's Turkmen List, have increased too.[7] There were 7 other non-ITF Turkmen candidates who were elected to the parliament from various lists. The biggest surprise was the 3 Turkmens getting elected in the Saladin Governorate, including the first ITF parliament member of Tuz Khormato, from a non-ITF list, Hena Asğar.[9][10]

Training by the Turkish Special Forces Command

In March 2015, exiled governor of Mosul, Atheel al-Nujaifi, revealed that Turkish Special Forces known as the "Maroon Berets" are training both Iraqi and Syrian Turkmens in a training mission targeted at recapturing ISIL's Mosul stronghold. Nujaifi also said that Turkish authorities had promised to send weapons. Turkish officials later confirmed training camps in Erbil, Mosul and Kirkuk as well as at unrevealed locations inside Syria. They said the training focussed on street clashes, sabotage and intelligence gathering.[12]

On the same day, Iraqi Turkmen Front MP Aydın Maruf declared that an official Turkmen Brigade of the Iraqi army would be created in the near future, starting with 500 men and then growing up to 1500 shortly thereafter for the defense of Tel'afar, Kifri and other major Turkmen settlements from ISIL and also for the planned offense to retake the areas which are currently under ISIL control, like Mosul.[13] He also stated that the brigade from now on would receive official support by the Turkish Armed Forces and that an Iraqi Turkmen commander would be in charge of the brigade in the ongoing fight. This official agreement between ITF, the Iraqi Government and the KRG will be guaranteed officially by the Republic of Turkey. Maruf considered this an important step for the future of Iraqi Turkmens and Turkmeneli. There are 4,000 Turkmen fighters battling Daesh in the northern province of Kirkuk and 10,000 others have finished their training in Mosul.[14][15]

See also


  1. 1 2 Raber Tal’at Jawhar. "The Iraqi Turkmen Front". Retrieved February 26, 2012.
  3. 1 2 Anderson & Stansfield 2009, 57.
  4. Anderson & Stansfield 2009, 16.
  6. "Turkmens fight besides Iraqi army for Turkmen settlements". TRT Avaz. 13 March 2015. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  7. 1 2 3 DUMAN, Bilgay (May 2012). "The Iraqi Turkmen Front in Its 17th Anniversary and the Turkmen in Iraqi Politics" (PDF). ORSAM-Middle Eastern Turkmen Programme (in Turkish). Turkish Center for Middle Eastern Strategical Studies(ORSAM). 4 (41): 58–60. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  8. Maruf, Aydın (July 7, 2014). "ORSAM Bölgesel Gelişmeler Söyleşileri - Kerkük'te Türkmen Varlığı Hiçe Sayılamaz(ORSAM Regional News Talk-The Significant Turkmen Population of Kirkuk Can Not Be Denied)" (PDF) (Interview). Interview with ORSAM. ORSAM-Turkish Center for Middle Eastern Strategical Studies. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  9. 1 2 3 DUMAN, Bilgay (June 2014). "Irak'ta 2014 Seçimleri, IŞİD Operasyonları, Irak'ın ve Türkmenlerin Geleceği (Iraqi parliamentary elections in 2014, ISIL Operations, Iraq's and Turkmens' Near Future)" (PDF). ORSAM-Middle Eastern Turkmen Programme (in Turkish). Turkish Center for Middle Eastern Strategical Studies(ORSAM) (190): 15 to 17. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  10. 1 2 "HABER - 10 Türkmen Vekil Irak Meclisine Girdi (NEWS - 10 Turkmens Have Been Elected For the Iraqi Parliament) - at the most bottom point" (in Turkish). May 21, 2014. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  11. 1 2 "Iraq's parliament elections, 2014 - Kirkuk". Al Sumaria. May 20, 2014. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  12. Uğur Ergan (16 March 2015). "Turkish military starts training missions in Iraq, Syria". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  13. Aydın Albayrak (14 March 2015). "Iraqi Turkmens demand armed force of their own ahead of Mosul offensive against ISIL". Today's Zaman. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
  14. "Iraq: 4,000 Turkmens 'ready to combat Daesh'". Anadolu Agency. 19 March 2015. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  15. "Iraqi Army, Peshmerga Forces Prepare Huge Offensive Against Daesh in Mosul". Sputnik News. 25 July 2016. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
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