Friday, August 26, 2005

Emotions run strong over Iraqi charter

By Ahmed Janabi
Friday 26 August 2005, 2:29 Makka Time, 23:29 GMT
Iraqi Shia and Turkmen factions have voiced reservations over the Iraqi constitution draft, saying it does not serve the interests of all Iraqis.

Turkmen & US Ambassador to Iraq Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad

Turkmen, who constitute Iraq's third largest ethnic group, are not comfortable with geographical or ethnic federalism, and say such a system will jeopardise their existence as well as put the whole country in danger.

"Geographical or ethnic federation would leave the third ethnic group in Iraq as a minority in a Kurdish federation. Even though we are a majority in several parts of Iraq such as Talafar and Kirkuk," said Nabil Herbo, the media representative of Turkmen Front in Talafar.

He told that the constitution does stipulate that Turkmen are the country's third ethnic group but does not specify their rights and obligations.

"The constitution left the Turkmen language untouched. We want to teach our language in our areas, but the constitution does not give us that right" he said.

However, Herbo said negotiations are still going on, and his Front will go eventually with what the Turkmen bloc in the parliament decides.
Resources Asif Soturkman, the representative of Turkmen Front in Britain, criticised the attempts to seize the wealth of Iraq in the draft constitution.

"They say the resources of each region in Iraq go to the ethnicity that rules that region. What does that mean? If an Iraqi Arab or Turkmen lives in a region without resources, he or she would starve to death?" Soturkman said.

"It is well known that revenues of a country go to the people of that country. Iraq's resources are for all Iraqis".

He said federalism is about gathering several small entities in one big powerful country as is the case in Canada for example. But what is happening in Iraq is the contrary: they want to break an already powerful country.

Soturkman accused the Kurds of bringing hundreds of thousands of Iranian Kurds into Kirkuk claiming they were displaced by Saddam Hussein's government. "The Turkmen used to be a majority in Kirkuk. We lived in city and know what had happened in it. All that the Saddam regime had displaced were around 11,000 Kurds and Turkmen, but now Kurds have become a majority in Kirkuk."

Soturkman said: "The Kurds want Arabs out of Kirkuk by 2007. Will they do the same with Kurds who have been living in the restl of Iraq? Will they tell the million Kurds in Baghdad to go back to the north? Why they do not want others to live with them?"