top of page


The Iraqi Turkmen Front or briefly the ITF, the Iraqi National Turkmen Party, the Turkmeneli Party, the Turkmen Independent Movement, the Turkmen Brotherhood Center, the Turkmeneli Cooperation and Culture Foundation, the Iraqi Turks Culture and Solidarity Association have been established by combining them under one roof. Its current president is Hasan Turan.

The objectives of the First Turkmen Congress held in Erbil on 4-7 October 1997 are listed as follows in the declaration.

  • The legitimate rights of Turkmens and other nations within the territorial integrity of Iraq;

  • Establishment of a democratic, pluralist parliamentary system that respects human rights and freedoms in Iraq;

  • Ensuring equality between all ethnic, sectarian and religious minorities living in Iraq;

  • It is the arrangement of the political and administrative structure according to the principles of equal rights.

In the 2005 Iraqi elections, it received 0.7% of the votes across the country. In the 2009 elections, Saladin won two of the 28 seats in the province. In the 2010 elections, they had 3 deputies in Kirkuk and 3 deputies in Mosul in Iraq. This number is around 10 with other elected Turkmen MPs.

In the 2010 Iraqi general elections, all Turkmen parties received approximately 300 thousand votes.

It is the only and central political organization that represents all of the Iraqi Turkmens and does not discriminate against any denomination or regional discrimination.


Turhan Ketene was born in 1956 in the Elmas district of Kirkuk, Iraq. He completed his primary and secondary education here. After his father became the police chief, he moved to Baghdad with his family. He also graduated from Ankara University Faculty of Medicine. During this period, with the start of the Gulf Operation, he moved to Erbil and served as the founding chairman of the Iraqi Turkmen Front. He was assassinated on December 19, 1995. He survived this attack unscathed, but his two bodyguards died. Later, he continued his political activities under the roof of the Turkmen People's Party. He also served as the political and foreign affairs officer of the TMH organization.

Irak TürkmenleriMarş
00:00 / 03:47

The Iraqi Turkmen Front or briefly the ITF, the Iraqi National Turkmen Party, the Turkmeneli Party, the Turkmen Independent Movement, the Turkmen Brotherhood Center, the Turkmeneli Cooperation and Culture Foundation, the Iraqi Turks Culture and Solidarity Association have been established by combining them under one roof.



Settlement and Population of Iraqi Turkmen

Iraqi Turkmens have been present in Iraq for over a thousand years and have been living in the northern and central regions of the country, in areas concentrated in the adjacent areas on a strip extending from the northwest to the southeast. Today, Iraqi Turkmens are spread over a strip along the borders of Mosul, Erbil, Kirkuk, Diyala and Selahattin provinces and in a few districts of the capital Baghdad.

The population of Iraq, which was around 2 million in the early 20th century, was 4.186.000 in 1947, 6.298.000 in 1957, 8.220.000 in 1965, 12.171.500 in 1977, 16.335.00 in 1987 and 1995. It has been calculated as 20.400.000. When we look at the 2014 Iraqi elections, the population of Iraq was recorded as approximately 35 million. The ratio of Iraqi Turkmens to the population is stated to be 9-10%. Accordingly, there are between 3 and 4 million Iraqi Turkmen population today.


Mosul is the third largest and second most populous city in Iraq, consisting of Arabs, Turks and Kurds. It consists of nine districts. Talafar, Sinjar, Hazar, Tilkef, Ba'aj, Hamadiye, Sihkhan and Akra. The most populous population of the vilayet is the central district. Yunus Prophet, Faysaliye and Mansur districts in the central district of Mosul consist of Iraqi Turkmen. Apart from that, there are villages where hundreds of Iraqi Turkmen live in rural areas. In addition, Talafar, the largest district of the Middle East, constitutes the second largest Turkmen population. Its approximate population is around 517,000. The importance of Talafar for the Iraqi Turkmens is that the central population consists entirely of Turkmens. Although the tribal structure is dominant in Talafar, there are Shiite, Sunni and Bektashi members within each tribe.


It is the most important and symbolic city of Iraqi Turkmens. It has been known as Kerhini and Kerhine in history. It is located between the northern and central regions of Iraq. It has rich oil reserves. Until 1960, 90% of the city was composed of Iraqi Turkmen. In addition, the name of the city was changed as al-Tamim in 1976 as a result of the Arabization policy. While Turkmens constituted 95% of the city until 1960, this rate decreased to 60% as a result of Arabization policies.

In its administrative division until 1975, Kirkuk consisted of four districts. One of them is Kirkuk, the center, and the others are Kifri, Tuzhurmatu and Çemçemal. After the 1970s, Tuzhurmatu was connected to the province of Selahattin as a result of the Arabization policy of Kirkuk. [24] Today, it consists of four districts, Dibis, Tavuk, Havice and the central Kirkuk district. Kirkuk is depicted as a small miniature of Iraq. Iraqi Turkmens mostly live in other districts except Havice. As of 2015, approximately 25% of Kirkuk consists of Iraqi Turkmen.


Diyala province is among the regions where Turkmen and Kurds are densely populated, with the majority Arab population living. There are five districts in Diyala province. These are Bakuba, Carpet, Hanekin, Mendeli and Şahraban (new name: Mikdadiye). Iraqi Turkmens live in almost all of these districts.


This province, which is an old Turkmen settlement, was the region where the Ba'ath regime was dominant. President of the Republic of Turkey in 1976, linking the Kirkuk connected Tuzhurmatu district during a visit to Kirkuk province is made here. Turkmens live in Emirli and Suleyman Bey towns together with Tuzhurmatu. Tuzhurmatu is one of the most important settlements of Iraqi Turkmen. As of 2009, the population of Tuzhurmatu is estimated at 190,000.


When the Turkmen ruled in Iraq, Baghdad was home to a significant number of Turkmen populations. Most of the Iraqi Turkmens, who were subjected to pressures over time, became Arab or emigrated. It is known that there are around 20,000 Turkmen population today.


The city of Erbil is located in the north of the country. In the east, Turkey to the north is bordered by Iran. Until the 1990s, the most populous population in the city center was Iraqi Turkmens. It is known that Iraqi Turkmens live especially in the inner parts of the city. Until 2006, mostly Turkmens lived in approximately 700 houses in Arbil Castle. After this date, with the evacuation of the settlements in the castle, the population was distributed to various neighborhoods. As of 2006, the Turkmen population in Erbil varies between 250,000 and 400,000. [32]

Iraqi Turkmens, who set foot on Iraqi lands in 674 AD, lost their sovereignty over Iraq as a result of the Ottoman Empire's loss in World War I. Subsequently, in the Lausanne negotiations, Britain used the concept of Turkmen in order not to consider the Turks in Iraq as an extension of Anatolia. However, this situation was not generally accepted and until 1959 they were called Iraqi Turks. The tension that emerged between the Baghdad administration and the Ankara administration with the coup in Iraq in 1958 also affected the Iraqi Turkmens. With the aim to cut their ties with Turkey have been used by the Iraqi government of Iraqi Turkmen concept rather than Turks. Although they try to show the concept of Turkmen as an ethnic identity separate from Anatolia, the word Turkmen and Iraqi Turks have the same value.

After World War I, Iraq entered under the British mandate in 1920 and was governed under the British mandate until 1932 under the umbrella of the League of Nations. Although he declared his independence in 1932, he followed England-based policies for a long time.

Turkey, Britain and Iraq under the mandate of 5 years in the Borders and Good Neighbor Agreement signed in June 1926. With this agreement, Turkey has abandoned its rights over Mosul.

Long Live Turkmen anthem


History of Iraqi Turkmen

Every important development in Iraq directly affects the Turkmens, who are among the essential elements of this country. Especially the practices they were exposed to during the turbulent times of Iraq's turbulent history revealed a pessimistic picture regarding the Iraqi Turkmen society. While Arab nationalist policies manifested themselves as distrust towards other ethnic groups in the country, violent practices directly targeting Turkmens were also experienced, as in the Gavurbağı incidents in 1946 and Kirkuk in 1959.

However, the most important social ruptures for Iraqi Turkmens started after the isolation of Saddam Hussein's administration that started with the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. While the international embargo and the ensuing wars brought a great destruction and dissolution in Iraq, it started a much more difficult period for the Turkmens. The 1991 Gulf War, the 2003 American invasion of Iraq after the 2006 civil war, the most important sanctuary of chaos manifesting itself in the process of Iraqi Turkmens by 2013, massacre was Daesan Turkey.

This study consists of three main parts. First, it was tried to give information about the Turkmen existence and settlement areas in Iraq. It is aimed to give information about the description of Iraqi Turkmens in the sources, their existence in Iraq and the geographies they live in. Thus, it is aimed to create general information about the life and culture of Iraqi Turkmens in their homeland.

Secondly, the political structuring of Iraqi Turkmens has been tried to be emphasized. The difficulties they faced and the massacres they were subjected to since 1920 were examined. The political structures that they established to act in unity after the painful events were examined. In the political struggles that will continue until today, the number of deputies in the Iraqi parliament has been given as of 2015. Again in this section, the political struggles of Turkmens and their role in Iraqi politics in the so-called democracy environment that emerged with the invasion of Iraq by America in 2003 is mentioned.

Finally, the position of Iraqi Turkmens in Turkish foreign policy was discussed. "What is the role of Iraqi Turkmen in the relations between the two countries?" The answer to the question was sought. The policies implemented until 2015 in Turkish foreign policy, which has been analyzed periodically, have been examined and tried to be examined within the conditions brought by the period.

Iraqi Turkmen Historical Background

Drawing the boundaries of the post-Ottoman Arab world, the British displayed a very arbitrary attitude when it came to the Iraqi State. The British tried to make Iraq, which was ruled by the Ottoman Empire in three regions, a single country without any conditions. When creating Iraq, Britain made a plan to protect oil security in Basra and the Indian colony. Ethnic identity elements in the region were not taken into account, geographical conditions were taken into account.

As World War I continued, oil was of vital importance to Britain. Controlling oil resources in Iraq, especially in the Persian Gulf, has become the main policy of this state. The British, who seized Baghdad in March 1917, gave Mosul to France in the Sykes-Picot Agreement. But at the end of the war, England did not accept this situation. He decided to seize both the security of India and the whole of Iraq to have Iraqi oil. In 1920, Britain created a mandate for Iraq at the San Remo Conference and took it under its own administration.

In November 1920, the first Iraqi government under the mandate was established, with Sheikh Abdurrahman al-Geylani as the prime minister. Representing Mosul, Baghdad and Basra, the government consisted of 21 members. There were very few Shiites, Christians, and Jews out of the mostly Sunni ministers. Among the Iraqi Turkmen, Izzettin Pasha from Kirkuk served as the minister of education and health in the temporary government.

In March 1921, with the participation of British Secretary of State W. Churchill, Percy Cox and his Eastern Affairs secretary Gertrude Bell, meeting at the Semiramis Hotel in Cairo, they came to the conclusion that Faisal could be the most suitable candidate for the king of Iraq. On August 23, 1921, the Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq was officially established by declaring Faisal's kingdom. Later on, an alliance agreement was signed between Faisal and Britain, and Iraq was completely under British control. In the decision of the League of Nations dated December 16, 1925, there was a provision to extend Iraq's mandate rule for 25 years, and this period was extended by 25 years with an agreement. However, the Iraqi cabinet and the people were opposed to this agreement. Failure to deal stating that given Mosul to Turkey, while England was threatening the Iraqi government. Concerned about this situation, the Iraqi Cabinet approved the agreement and extended the mandate administration. When it came to 1932, it applied to the League of Nations as a fully independent member country due to the conditions of the period.

Political Struggle of Iraqi Turkmen

With the establishment of the Iraqi State, Turkmens suddenly found themselves in a minority position. The British and King Faisal, realizing that the history of Iraq cannot be written without the Turkmens, tried to erase the traces of the Turkmen in Iraq in order to prevent this situation. They caused various problems both in the constitution and in the social field.

In this section, the situations faced by Iraqi Turkmens in the constitution and other areas will be briefly mentioned. Later, the political parties established by the Turkmen in order to prevent this situation and to dominate the Iraqi politics will be examined.

It is important to develop relations between the two countries and to advance friendship during the reign of Mustafa Kemal. However, this situation did not cause any improvement for the Iraqi Turkmens, on the contrary, the pressure on the Iraqi Turkmen increased even more. The rights given to the Iraqi Turkmens during the royal period were for show, but they did not (a) become widespread in practice.

The draft constitution prepared by British advisors in Iraq was shaped on the basis of local representation by order of London. The constitution, which was revised by the Constituent Assembly, entered into force upon King Faisal's acceptance. In Article 16 of the Constitution, the right of ethnic groups to open schools in their mother tongue is regulated. The official language in Iraq is Arabic, except for cases that are excluded by law according to Article 17, and these exceptions were determined in 1931 by the Law on Local Languages numbered 74. It was envisaged that education in the mother tongue in schools where Turkmens were educated, especially in the regions where Iraqi Turkmens live intensively.

In 1932, the Kingdom of Iraq issued a declaration upon the end of the British mandate in Iraq and its membership in the League of Nations. This declaration published by Prime Minister Nuri Said is accepted as the basic laws of Iraq; It was stated that no laws, statutes and regulations could contradict or stand above the articles in the text of the declaration. [62] In this case, other minorities, especially Iraqi Turkmens, also gained wide rights. Issues such as guaranteeing the rights of Iraqi Turkmens, protecting their property and property, and the employment of Turkmen origin civil servants in regions where Turkmens live intensely are guaranteed. With the rise of Arab nationalism, the decisions taken were not put into practice, and between 1936-1958, Turkmens were banned from establishing associations that carried out cultural and social activities, broadcasting in their own language and providing education.

By the year 1937 will be between Turkey and Iraq signed Sadabat Pact was seized by Iraqi Turkmen learned a great thrill. The arrival of the Turkish delegation to Kirkuk for signature created a festive atmosphere in the city. After the First World War to come to the authorities of the Republic of Turkey it would be the first. When Nuri Said Pasha, who came to Kirkuk with the Turkish delegation, returns to Baghdad, his first job will be to find the perpetrators of the extraordinary shows of affection to the Turkmen rulers in Kirkuk and punish them. In addition, in the Sadabat Pact signed, there is no article regarding the situation of the Iraqi Turkmen. [65]

Efforts to change Kirkuk governor and mayor in 1949 were met with concern by Iraqi Turkmens. Thousands of students and tradesmen from Iraqi Turkmen demonstrated and protested. The Baghdad administration, which was worried about this situation, changed its mayor and appointed Şamil Yakubi of Turkmen origin as mayor.

Language, Religion and Education of Turkmens

The language of Iraqi Turkmens is Turkish. Their language is similar to Azerbaijani Turkish. However, there are great differences between them in terms of accent. Iraqi Turkmens, who prefer Istanbul dialect in written language, have been influenced by Arabic and Kurdish in recent years. The majority of the Turkmens, 96% of whom are Muslim, are Sunni and 23% are Shia. There is no hostility among Turkmens due to the difference of sect and there has not been any serious problem until today. As of 1994, 75% of Iraqi Turkmens were literate, while 25% were illiterate. 14% of women and 16% of men are secondary school graduates. 7% of women and 17% of men are high school graduates. 14.7% of women and 38% of men are university graduates. Among the Iraqi people, Turkmens have an important place with their intellectuals.

Turkey Turkmen Policy

The Iraqi State, which emerged after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, was established in a geography chosen for the game of states. The masses of people consisting of different demographic structures have had great difficulty accepting the Iraqi identity until today. Iraqi Turkmens are the leading peoples who experience this difficult situation. Due to their Turkish identity, they are one of the most oppressed peoples without exception during the period of all governments that came to power after the 1920s. Close ties with Turkey, perceived negatively by Iraqi Administrators in bilateral relations has been one of the issues brought before Turkey.

International relations after Turkey's national struggle period coincides with a period when the versatile and different variables. The establishment of many new states in the Empire and their compatriots remain in the minority in this country, Turkey's policy has been to develop the factors affecting these countries.

Ankara administration, which started the Westernization program after the proclamation of the Republic, quickly moved away from Ottoman traditions and turned its direction from the Middle East to the West in order to achieve its goal of modernization. Mosul and Kirkuk in which insist on having him here in the beginning of Turkey, alamayarak afford a new dispute renounced their demands against England's efforts in this direction.

In this section, the approach to the Iraqi Turkmens living in Turkey's foreign policy periodically in the framework of bilateral relations with Iraq under the mandate of the emerging and England after a period of the Ottoman Empire will be discussed. In the field of investigation that will continue until today, it is aimed to reveal the value given to Iraqi Turkmens.

bottom of page