By Wassim Bassem for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Iraqi Turkmens, who are citizens of Iraq with Turkish origins, have been calling for their own independent province in the Tal Afar district west of Mosul, located in the center of the Ninevah province.
The Turkmens’ demands coincide with calls for the establishment of other new provinces in Ninevah, such as the Ninevah Plain province for Christians and Sinjar province for the Yazidis.
All of these projects are based on religious or ethnic division, whether among Turkmens, Kurds, Arabs, Sunnis or Shiites. Some see these proposals as the solution to the sectarian, religious and ethnic diversity problems that have caused so much killing and displacement of minorities since the Islamic State (IS) took over the areas in June 2014.
But others fear the proposals would further divide the country into regional fiefdoms, fending off peace and causing new conflicts for power and influence.
Turkmens are a mix of Sunnis and Shiites and are the third-largest ethnicity in Iraq after Arabs and Kurds, numbering about 3 million out of the total population of about 34.7 million, according to 2013 data from the Iraqi Ministry of Planning. Turkmens have escalated their demands as the battle to retake Mosul from IS approaches.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Oct. 2, “After liberating Mosul from [IS], only Sunni Arabs, Turkmens and Sunni Kurds should stay there.” His remarks drew wide divisions between the Turkmens regarding their areas in Iraq. The Turkmen Rescue Foundation on Oct. 4 denounced Erdogan’s statements, demanding that he respect the ethnic and sectarian diversity in Iraq, since Mosul is home to a variety of social components, not only the ones he mentioned.