Wednesday, March 05, 2003

While we wait impatiently for the war to start we’re spending our days digging around on a few stories to keep us busy.

One of them….what the war will mean for the Turkmen? Who? The Turkmen are part of the tapestry of ethnic groups that make up Iraq and have close historical links with Turkey.

According to my notes….

“Turkmen began to settle in Mesopotamia in the 11th century and a number of communities were founded in Iraq in the 12th century.

“They number some 2.5 million, about 2% of the population.

“They live mainly in northern Iraq, south of the Kurdish Autonomous Region.

“Turkmen leaders say thousands of their community were forced into destitution in northern Iraq, while up to 20,000 made their way illegally into Europe throughout the 1990s.”

The reason they’re interesting is that in a post-Saddam era, there could be a struggle between the Turkmen and the Kurds over who has claim to key cities such as the oil-rich Kirkuk. Also the two parties representing the Turkmen community are divided. One works in co-operation with the Kurdish authorities, but the other is backed by Turkey who – as yesterday’s demo showed – the Kurds hate.

So, they’re a community being pulled in opposite directions – one towards their roots in Turkey, the other towards integration with Kurdistan. Also, Turkey wants to send troops into Kurdistan to protect the Turkmen, which would cause the most almighty shit storm.

Our research took us to the most fantastic antique shop, stuffed to the rafters with amazing maps, guns, pictures and rugs – including this delightful one of Saddam. I didn’t ask the price, although I may go back to see how much the owner wants for the stuffed bear.

Then we went on to the Citadel in Arbil, the history of which I need to look into (Vicky, I’m on the case and will report back).

We’d been warned that the Citadel was a den of thieves and bandits, but in fact the people there couldn’t have been more welcoming…curious, polite – and very photogenic.


Anonymous Jonny said...

I have the same rug.

11:46 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home