Turkey ‘doing its best’ for Iraqi Turkmens
A group of Iraqi Turkmens arrive in Arbil after fleeing from Tal Afar, which was overrun by insurgents of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). AA PhotoTurkey has been doing its best to reach out to Iraqi Turkmens caught in the middle of sectarian strife in neighboring Iraq, the head of a government aid agency has said, in an apparent response to criticism that the government has been ignoring the plight of Turkmens.
“No incident can ever be overshadowed by another one. Turkey is doing its best,” Fuat Oktay, the president of the Prime Ministry’s Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD), told Anadolu Agency on July 24, referring to comparisons of assistance provided for Palestinians and Iraqi Turkmens.
So far, Turkey has sent 71 trucks loaded with humanitarian assistance to Iraq, Oktay said, adding that they had been in contact with the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITC) on the ground.
“Assistance to Iraqi Turkmens is continuing with the same sensitivity, seriousness and intensity as on the first day,” he added.
More than half a million people have been displaced across Iraq since June, when the northern city of Mosul fell to Sunni insurgents of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who have since harried Shiite Turkmen as well as Shabaks, Yezidis and Christians.
The town of Tal Afar, 70 kilometers west of Mosul, was overrun by insurgents last month, driving out large numbers of Shiite Turkmen.
At a camp in the disused hangar of a construction company on the outskirts of Arbil, thousands of Turkmen, who have close cultural and linguistic links to Turkey, wait their turn to be bused to the airport and flown down to Baghdad and the Shiite cities of Najaf and Kerbala.
Hours after Oktay’s remarks of assurance of support to Iraqi Turkmens, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli harshly lambasted the government for “indifference” to Iraqi Turkmens’ tragedy.
“ISIL has turned its guns at Turkmens since June 6,” Bahçeli said at a press conference, adding that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did not even consider the situation of Turkmens, despite fuming at Israel for its operations against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
“For Erdoğan, Turkmens are an entity that should be suppressed and assimilated. The weaponry and ammunition that Erdoğan has given to ISIL is putting Turkmens in the grave,” he added.