Turkmen Choose Leader Sami Shabak

Turkmen Choose Leader

Sami Shabak, a prominent member of the governing council of the Iraq Turkmen Front, angrily resigned Monday, accusing the party of being under the influence of the Turkish government and of taking outside direction in pursuing confrontations with the local Kurdish population. (-al-Sharq al-Awsat).

The Iraq Turkmen Front voted in Kirkuk on Monday for a Party leader. The party, which represents the Sunnis among Iraq’s some 500,000 Turkmen in the north, will probably be led by Faruq Abdul Rahman. It had had members living in Turkey during the Saddam period, but these have now given up their right to vote, though the question of Turkish government influence on it remains hot.

The main rival to the ITF is the Turkmen Islamic Union or TIU, which largely groups Shiite Turkmen from Telafer and Tuz Khurmati. The two parties have a vague association, but there is sectarian friction. The ITF nevertheless is seeking to capitalize on the support recently given by Arab Shiites to the Turkmen Shiites when the latter clashed with local Kurds over a shrine. One problem for Iraq is that small ethnic groups such as the Turkmen think they are a larger proportion of the population than they really are. The Turkmen claim they are 5-14% of Iraqis, which seems to me wholly implausible. The ITF has already held rallies protesting that there is only one Turkmen representative on the Interim Governing Council, and she is a woman representing a non-governmental organization rather than the ITF. The Turkmen and their fate are important because they have strong backing from Turkey. The recent Kurdish-Turkmen riots provoked demonstrations in Ankara. See

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