ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Turkmen official complained on Friday that parties in the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad routinely exclude Turkmen ethnic minority parties by not consulting them when making crucial national decisions.
“We have good relations with parties in the Kurdistan Region and other Iraqi parties from the Sunni and Shia in Baghdad, but we are being marginalized in the process of making important decisions in the country,” said Aydin Maruf, the Iraqi Turkmen Front party's representative in the Kurdistan Region, during an interview with Kurdistan 24.
“We want to be part of the process of political decision-making in the country,” Maruf continued. “For example, nobody consults with us in talks and negotiations about the formation of the new Iraqi government following the May 12 election.”
“We want both Erbil and Baghdad to deal with us as an ethnic minority rather than as parliament seats,” Maruf added.
In the Kurdistan Parliament, Turkmen are given five quota seats and none in the Iraqi Parliament. In the May national election, Turkmen won three parliamentary seats from the ethnically-diverse province of Kirkuk.
The group's members live primarily in Iraq's disputed territories, namely the province of Kirkuk, claimed by both the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi government.
Maruf complained that the issue of Kirkuk as a disputed territory would have been resolved if both Erbil and Baghdad had only given more weight to the views of Turkmen in past negotiations.
According to the official, the KRG has focused on negotiating with Sunni and Shia Arabs to address the future of the disputed territories, especially Kirkuk and that the issue needs to be discussed more fully with Turkmen representatives.
Although there are a few larger political groups like the Iraqi Turkmen Front that claim to advocate for them, ethnic Turkmen are, politically, largely divided among multiple parties across the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.
Editing by John J. Catherine