Will Turkish language be homebound in Kirkuk?
Today’s Iraq is one of the countries that have emerged at the end of the 400-year-old Ottoman Empire rule after the First World War.
As far as we know, British agent Gertrude Bell, together with British officials, drew a map that corresponded to today’s borders of Iraq. After that, Iraq was able to partially survive even though it went through the First World War, and even though it was fighting a long war with Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini regime, maybe thanks to the Baath dictatorship and the toughness of the Saddam Hussein regime. The Kurds of northern Iraq have been revolting since Mullah Mustafa Barzani (1903-1979), and with the last American intervention; they have gained their autonomy.
Two million Turks in northern Iraq
The Kurdish regime in northern Iraq is in good relations with Turkey. They have established control against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). As they have seized oil revenues and the welfare in the region is increasing. Iraq, to keep hold of this region, has opted for making concessions to the Kurdish population and administration.
Recently, Kurdish has been declared the second official language in the region after Arabic. New arrangements were introduced. However, as is the custom in such annexations in the Middle East, the first acts we see are fires that break out in land registry offices and civil registries. The aim is to eradicate the legal assurances of the group that is wished to be eliminated and the assets of which to be easily seized.
No doubt, there is a third group that we need to mention; the Turks. The Mosul province of the Ottoman Empire, together with Baghdad and Basra, were the three pillars of Iraq.
The main characteristic of the Mosul province was that, like Kirkuk and Erbil, it was totally inhabited by Turks. Turks were also undoubtedly in central Mosul, which was a mixture of nations and religions. It was almost the Tower of Babel. Neither the state of Iraq nor the autonomous administration today has conducted a precise census; but the Turkish population in northern Iraq is no less than 2 million. This is what local and international observers have stated.
Despite all, the Turkish population in the Kirkuk and Erbil regions has been spread toward inner Iraq and especially Baghdad, but they have not emigrated to other countries or even Turkey. However, during Saddam’s massacres there, they came to Turkey, but a major portion of them have returned. This is because they both owned land and businesses.
The Turks in this region have an accent similar to Iranian Turks and Caucasian Azerbaijani people, but the intellectual class always spoke, read and wrote Istanbul Turkish.
Turkey should re-evaluate the situation
There are other population groups like the Turks in Kirkuk who have found themselves in another country, under another administration overnight. The Galicia of Western Ukraine, Transylvania of old Hungary, which became Romania, Karelia of Finland, people of Western Thrace and south Bulgaria or Bukovina in the north of Romania of the Austrian Empire are regions all like this.
Masses that had to change passports overnight have different issues and different levels of tolerance. The region of Kirkuk is one of these. However, they are now about to lose their land and their homes.
With the Kirkuk administration’s last pathetic move, the use of the Turkish language in the region is excluded from public institutions, TVs, conference halls and most importantly from schools. The Turkish population in this region is the most populous and the most educated group of people living there. A language that is ultimately bound to coffee houses and homes has no chance of surviving more than one generation.
The map of the Middle East is being redesigned. The Iraq that was drawn after the First World War was a fabrication. It has always been reported that the frequently mentioned Greater Middle East Project has been arranged and planned by the Pentagon and the U.S. administration.
The drawing of the map of such a region is not a business that anybody could know and succeed in advance. What is apparent can or cannot be controlled, but incidents, clashes, animosities and new alliances seal the fate of people and countries.
The acceptance of the situation in Kirkuk is debatable in terms of what Turkey has pledged for the minority there and in terms of the protection it used to provide.