Turkmen parties say they support redeployment of Peshmerga in disputed territories

The Turkmen lawmaker said Peshmerga were known to protect all components of populations under their control without ethnic or religious discrimination.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Turkmen parties in the Kurdistan Region voiced support on Friday for the redeployment of Peshmerga forces in areas with Kurdish majority populations outside those administered by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Member of the Kurdistan Region's Parliament from the Iraqi Turkmen Front Aydin Maruf, in an interview with Kurdistan 24, expressed his support for the return of Peshmerga forces to support stabilization efforts in Kirkuk and other disputed territories.

MPs from some Turkmen parties in Kirkuk have recently objected to the return of Peshmerga forces to the province, stating that the security situation there is under control.

Since the Oct. 16 takeover of disputed territories by Iraqi security forces and Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias, Maruf explained, ethnic Turkmen have become the target of the militias in Kirkuk, resulting in the death of 30 members of Turkmen parties.

Peshmerga forces, part of Iraq's defense apparatus, could support and defend Turkmen in the disputed areas, the lawmaker said, adding that they were known to protect all components of populations under their control without ethnic or religious discrimination.

Maruf believes that the Iraqi government has played a negative role in the coexistence of Iraqis, both now and in the past, claiming that “the Iraqi government has always wanted political, ethnic and sectarian conflicts present [in disputed areas] between the groups.

Turkmen Development Party leader Muhammad Saadaddin Ilhanli, speaking to Kurdistan 24, said that, since the creation of the state of Iraq, massacres and other issues facing Turkmen have been committed by the Iraqi government and various terrorist groups.

"When the Islamic State (IS) attacked several areas, it was the Peshmerga forces that defended the Turkmen and other groups," said Ilhanli. "And for this, Turkmen always appreciate their sacrifices."

Majid Bazrgan, Head of Erbil's Turkmen Party bloc in the Kurdistan Parliament said that, some shortcomings notwithstanding, Turkmen enjoy equal rights in the Kurdistan Region.

Bazrgan refuted claims by some he called “sectarian Turkmen individuals” against the Kurdistan Region and Peshmerga forces, saying, “they do not represent the Turkmen nation.”

Since Peshmerga fighters withdrew from Kirkuk and other disputed territories in the Iraqi and Hashd al-Shaabi offensive following the Kurdistan Region's independence referendum, security has deteriorated and IS activities have increased.

Editing by John J. Catherine