World Bulletin / News Desk
Iraqi Turkmen Front leader Ersad Salihi has called on the West to send arms to Iraqi Turkmen in northern Iraq in order to fight off advances by the self-proclaimed 'Islamic State', otherwise known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has been making gains in the region, forcing thousands to flee their homes.
The Iraqi Turkmen leader's demand comes after the West announces it would be sending arms to the Iraqi Kurds to defend their autonomous regional government, centered in the city of Erbil, from attacks by the rebel group, which is backed by Sunni Arab tribes.
However, Salihi warned that the Unites States and European Union’s armed support for the Kurdish peshmerga forces could change the dynamics in the region, calling for these arms to only be temporarily “lent” to Kurds while also doing the same for the Turkmens.
Speaking to Turkey's daily Hurriyet, Salihi said that if the support was given to the Kurds alone, it would indicate that there are “other plans and games” being played in the region to divide Iraq into three separate states - a Shiite region in the south, a Kurdish region in the north and a Sunni region in the central Iraq.
Fearing that such an agreement would leave no place for the Turkmens, Salihi said “It is imposable for us to accept such an understanding,” adding that Turkmens have already suffered the biggest loss of life and property in Iraq.
Salihi also didn't rule out a fourth state being carved out of Iraqi for Christian and Yazidi minorities, and at the same time demanded the same level of concern for the Turkmens. “It wouldn’t be a right approach for the United Nations Security Council to view only Christians and Yazidis as the groups to be helped in Iraq,” he told Hurriyet.
The Iraqi Turkmens, who after Arabs and Kurds make up Iraq's third largest ethnic group, have seen their main city Kirkuk fall under the occupation of the Kurdish peshmerga forces ever since rebels overran Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, on June 10.
While the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government of northern Iraq insists that it has only occupied the oil-rich city of Kirkuk as a precaution against advancing rebels, Iraqi Turkmens, who have made a demand for their own autonomy in the city, fear that the Kurdish forces are there to stay.
As Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani pushes for a referendum in northern Iraqi for independence, the Iraqi Turkmen Front has called to arms to defend themselves against rebel attacks. A number of Iraqi Turkmens have already fled Tuzkhormatu, Tal Afar and Mosul after the rebels conducted massacres in the region.Last Mod: 18 Ağustos 2014, 14:25