Iraqi Kurdish paper interviews Turkoman Front official Chawder

The USG Open Source Center translates a newspaper interview with an official of the Turkmen Front. Turkmen speak a language similar to that used in Turkey, and so are the objects of concern of Turkey concerning their treatment in Iraq. Kurds implicated Turkmen in the horrific bombing at Kirkuk last week, though this allegation strikes me me as unlikely to be true.

Iraqi Kurdish paper interviews Turkoman Front official
Chawder
Friday, August 1, 2008 . . .
Document Type: OSC Translated Text . . .

Iraqi Kurdish paper interviews Turkoman Front official

Text of interview by Abdullah and Yasin entitled: “Head of Turkoman Front media Narmin Al-Mufti says: We will never recognize the Kurdistan Region Government and we let the Kurdish leadership know that we would rather be part of China than Kurdistan”; published by Iraqi Pro-Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) weekly newspaper Chawder on 28 July

“The Turkoman Front would not accept elections because any elections would be in the interest of the Kurdish political parties, since they keep cheating.
The Iraqi Turkoman Front has been treated preferentially by Kurdish political parties because it is thought that they would influence Kurdish interests in Kirkuk. The Front has been directed by foreign countries. However, the party denies theses allegations as false rumours and they consider themselves to be neglected in the management of Kirkuk.

Narmin al-Mufti: Before we start the interview, I would like to say one thing and I hope that you will not change it or edit it. When I say “the occupiers I mean the USA. As for the internal regional government, I would not call them the KRG (Kurdistan Region Government) because we call the KRG the Northern Administration, since we do not recognize the KRG. This is my condition for conducting the interview and I hope that you will convey my statement to the public in a trustworthy way.

Chawder: Do you consider the US as an occupier? As you mentioned at the start that you do not recognize the KRG as a legal entity, do you consider the Kurds to be occupiers too?

Narmin al-Mufti: No, I do not consider the Kurds to be occupiers in the north of Iraq, but I consider the USA to be occupiers. The KRG is not a lawful region but an internal administration. We do not recognize it because the Iraqi public have not voted for the region to be separate, but the current situation has become a fact of life. It was forced upon us, contrary to the Iraqi constitution. When latitude line 361 (this number is probably a typographical error; the latitude line protection zone that the interviewee is referring to is 36) was established for the Iraqi government. Half of Sulaymaniyah was outside the line and, at the same time, half of Mosul was inside it. Later the committee excluded the outer half of Sulaymaniyah and removed the area of Mosul outside the zone. It would be clear for anyone with brains that the Iraqi public were not consulted but the idea was forced on them. Nevertheless, we recognize the Kurdish Internal Administration because, in 1970, the Iraqi government gave Kurds the right to govern themselves.

Chawder: To what extent does the Turkoman Front take part in the new Iraqi constitution? Do you rely on the constitution? Do you believe that the constitution protects the rights of all Iraqis?

Narmin al-Mufti: We do not believe the Kurdish leadership when they say that they rely on the constitution in their dealings. They usually force themselves on us, and if the constitution is not in their favour, they dismantle it and bring a new constitution forward. We do not recognize the constitution because it has been forced upon us without our agreement. We prefer and recognize the older constitution, which contained 39 articles and did not contain Article 140. However, later the new constitution was forced on the Iraqi people because of pressure from the Kurdish leadership. The so-called Article 140 had a implementation deadline but the deadline has lapsed and, by law, the article would be dismantled. The Kurdish leadership needs to review itself because they are only concerned about, and work for, their own interests. Let them start working as Iraqis to normalize Kirkuk. Kirkuk issues can be resolve by 32 Kurdish, Turkomans and Arabs. However, Turkomans would lose out but they deserve better. (sentences as published)

Chawder: Do you think that a ballot vote is the best way forwards to resolve the current issues in Kirkuk?

Narmin al-Mufti: The Turkoman Front does not agree with elections, because balloting would be in the interest of the Kurdish political parties and they are always carrying out vote fraud.

The Kurdish leadership asks for the repatriation of the displaced Kurdish population as soon as there is talk of elections. They insist that the displaced should be returned to their homes before any elections, otherwise they threaten not to take part in the elections. Nevertheless, they do not talk about the demographic changes that they carried out inside the city of Kirkuk. They have brought around 688,000 non-residents to Kirkuk. How can they justify saying that these people are Kirkuk residents? The newcomers do not own any land and have no residence. Let the Kurdish power return those outsiders to the places they came from, as they forced the Arab settlers out of the city when they came. If they do as required, then we will be able to accept elections in Kirkuk. Once the non-residents return, the Turkomans would have the majority vote in Kirkuk.

It is clear that the displaced population of Kirkuk was 11,250 citizens, not the families; if they were divided by four, then one quarter of them are Turkomans. (sentence as published). Who in his right mind believes that this small number has increased to 688,000 citizens in five years’ time? No one believes in this radical change apart from the Kurdish leadership.

I would like to give an example to prove my statement: the Directorate of Kirkuk Municipality issued a written complaint regarding the movement of large numbers of Kurds into the municipality property. This shows the injustice in Kurdish rule. Another example is that the Kurdish officials have changed the names of the streets by a new method but it is clear that they used the same old system. The other example of Kurdish officials’ ignorance is the renaming of 90th Street, which is a Turkoman street. They looked for a new name for long time and could not find a name but later they decided to call the street China. The excuse for the change was that, 2,000 years ago, it was called China Street because a large number of Chinese immigrants lived in the area. I want to tell the Kurdish leadership that we would rather be part of China than Kurdistan.

Chawder: Is it true that the Turkoman Front gets financial and moral support from foreign countries – in particular Turkey, which is not in the best interest of Kirkuk?

Narmin al-Mufti: Shame on those who think that the Turkoman Front is a Turkish proxy, especially the Kurdish people and the political parties. These rumours have been spread by the Kurdish leadership and the contrary is true. The Kurdish political parties are much closer to Turkey than the Turkoman Front. Turkey does not help the Front morally or financially half as much as the Kurdish parties.
The question I ask would be this: Which Kurdish leader did not benefit from the Turkish state? All the rumours are far from the truth. We support ourselves in all our dealings and Turkey does not give us any help whatsoever. Nevertheless, if they did, it is not a crime and we would not become enslaved to them. The question I ask would be whether the Kurdish leadership accepted help from foreign countries when they were in opposition? It is also true to say that 65 per cent of all the companies operating in Kurdistan are Turkish, but has Turkey confronted the Kurdish leadership with that reality? I become very angry when people talk about the enslavement of the Turkoman Front to Turkey. The Kurdish leadership allowed itself to become US and European proxies. They brought them from far-flung places around the world to invade Iraq; however, they do not think that it is appropriate for the Turkoman Front to accept a little support from Turkey, which has not happened.
(Description of Source: Sulaymaniyah Chawder in Sorani Kurdish — pro-Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) weekly newspaper)