NORTHERN IRAQ; FROM PAST TO PRESENT
Dr Abdullah Manaz – February 2003
Accepting Islam after 633 AD; Iraq was under the influence of the Turkish States at 1055 AD and became an Ottoman Province at 1534 AD. Following the 1st World War and Mondros Seize Fire Agreement the region fell under the control of the British. At the same time, Nationalization Movement of Turkey was continuing and the National Council that gathered at April 23, 1920, had accepted Musul; a province of Iraq which involved Erbil, Kerkuk, Musul, Suleymaniye cities within the National Boundaries. The roots of Northern Iraq problem, we are hardly debating today, were laid in those days. Great Britain strongly opposed to the idea in Lousan and Haliç conferences and the subject matter was brought to Council of Nations.
To obtain their goals, British plotted many intrigues. On May 4, 1924, the Turks were massacred by the professional Livi army, which was established by Asuris. This was the first of the massacre attempts. Following that, in East Anatolia, at 1925 February, a rebel was started in the leadership of Sheikh Said. At the end of the same year, on December 16, the Musul province was left to the Iraqi Mandate Administration. At 1926, July 5, Turkey was forced to accept Iraq borderline by Ankara Agreement, which was determined by Council of Nations.
After these years, a planned assimilation policy was carried for Turks in Iraq. The aim was to take the productive land of Turks, prohibit Turkish language and eliminate Turkish existence through exiles. At that time, all the ethnic groups, except Kurdish tribes were against the British. Iraq gained its independence on 1932, but British influence was still continuing.
Existence of the Turkish population and language was officially accepted with the law related to the finalization of Mandate Administration at 1932, May 30, by the Council of Nations. Until 1945, Iraq observed many rebellious acts initiated by British. After Second World War, the power struggles in the region became a two headed act, leaded by USA and Soviet Union. A new era started in the region with the establishment of Israel in 1948, NATO in 1949 and Warsaw Pact in 1955.
Cemal Abdunnasir, who became power in Egypt, following a coup d’eta in 1952, placed himself near East Block, by taking Syria also at his side. Also at that time in Iraq, the Prime Minister Nuri Said, who was supported by USA, was killed by General Abdulkerim Kasım at 1958, July 13, whom was given the duty of invading Syria.
Kasım, contrary to public opinion pressures, did not enter to Egypt-Syria coalition, but invited Molla Mustafa to Iraq, the leader of Barzani tribe who was trained by Soviets. Molla Mustafa, who used to be on Nasır’s and Kasım’s side, suddenly changed his preference and agreed with Iran, who was the most powerful ally of USA and had started rebellious acts against Iraq.
General Kasım, when requested assistance from Soviets to get rid of Kurdish rebels, faced a proposal of Communist Party’s admission in the administration, which was established by Kurds and Jews, having press relations with British and becoming strong at the public opinion. At that time, Kasım renewed its contacts with British whom advised him to agree with Barzani. As a matter of fact, Iraqi Administration, who was to agree with Kurds, had to make many sacrifices. In order to establish Kurdish power at the northern Iraq, a large Turkish massacre was made at Musul and Kerkuk on 1959, July 19, with the help of Communist Party and Israel. Only the %10 of the land of Northern Iraq was productive and was owned by Turks. These lands were taken from the Turks and were distributed to Kurdish tribes. Only 1000 acres of land was allocated to Turks with the Land Reform Law, which was put on to power with the request of Molla Mustafa. Though had great compromises, Kurdish tribes rebelled against Iraqi Administration from time to time.
In the February of 1963, General Kasım and his followers were executed by a coup d’eta initiated by Baas (Bath) Party officers. Baas Party is originally a racist organization, which takes Arab Nationalism as a base, established by Mişel Eflak, who was a Syrian Christian. Under the Baas Administration; The Presidency, Prime Ministry and Leadership of Revolutionary Command Council was assigned to General Hasan el Bekir and Saddam Hussein was designated as his assistant. Kurdish tribes’ rebellious acts and additional requests were continuing against Iraq Administration. Iraq Baas Administration, which had to agree with Kurds, declared Suleymaniye and the region between two Zap as the Autonomous Kurdish Region in 1970, March 11, by Law. Additionally, the 700 acres of the remaining 1000 acres of the Turks’ land was allocated to the Kurds. The cultural rights given in 1970, March 24, in order to please Turks; such as education in their own language and release of a Turkish newspaper, were postponed. The historic Erbil city, was declared as the capital of Kurdish Autonomous Region. But Kurds, who were supported by USA and Iran, continued their rebellious acts against Iraq in the following years.
In 1975, Saddam Hussein, agreed with the Shah of Iran by giving them the half of Şattularab, Zeynil Kavis, Seyif Saad and Pencuvin regions. Contrary to reaction of USA, Iran removed its support from Kurds and took back their heavy guns. Following that, Saddam Hussein started a great land and air operation against Kurds. Kurds living near to Iran border, saved their lives by running into Iran. Kurds living helpless in Dohuk, escaped from a big massacre with the intervention of Turkey and they were let to pass through Iran. Iraq Administration passed a general amnesty for Kurds. A group of Kurds, including Barzani’s eldest son Ubeydullah and his brothers Ubeydullah and Sabir preferred to submit themselves to Iraq Administration instead of passing over the Iran border but they were executed later on.
Iraq Administration, which carried assimilation policy against Turks with the same speed, changed the name of the Turkish city “Kerkuk” as “el Tamim” on 1976, January 29. Thousand dollars of aid were given to Arabs who wanted to relocate in Kerkuk. the Turkish President Fahri Korutürk visited the region in April of the same year and was met with great demonstrations from the population, following this visit, the Iraqi administration put arrests and exiles into effect.
1979, January 12 Iranian Islamic Revolution, re-altered all the balances in the Middle East. USA, which lost its greatest alliance in the Middle East, started to support Saddam Hussein‘s administration at Iraq. At that year, the power of Saddam Hussein at the administration increased and General Bekir was obliged to leave his duty. Saddam, executed Baas officers who acted against him. USA and the Western states, which were scared of the enlargement of Iran Revolution to the whole Gulf, contributed vastly to the conventional and chemical weapons of Iraq in a short time. At 1980, September 22, West supported Iraqi army, went into Iran from several regions. The war, which lasted in 8 years, caused a billion dollar economic lost, besides the death of 2 millions people and instability of the whole region. In order to establish a balance during the war, USA continued to assist Iran secretly via Israel. Assimilation policy against Turks also continued during the war. Turks were exiled to Southern cities by the decree numbered 1931, dated 20 October 1981. Turks were forbidden to buy real estate by the decree numbered 418, dated 4 April 1984 and the land owned by Turks expropriated and allocated to Arabs relocated from south regions by the decree numbered 1081, dated 27 September 1984.
At the time being, Molla Mustafa was dead and his son Mesut became the leader of his tribe. Iran agreed with Mesut Barzani to supress Kasım LO Kurdish movement which was supported by the West while Celal Talabani and his 6000 men were agreed with Saddam to fight against Iran. The leader of Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) Barzani suppressed Kurdish rebels in Iran, later on agreed to act in common with the leader of Kurdish Patriotic Union leader Talabani and they decided to be at Iran‘s side. Frequently changing their sides according to their benefits and fighting with their own nations, Kurdish groups were generally acting at the interest of the West.
After the Iran–Iraq War, which ended in 1988, the target of the USA and the West became Saddam Administration at this time. Against Iraq, which became a danger to capture the petroleum regions, with its increased arms power, they began to establish alliances with Kurdish tribes. Saddam Hussein, while aiding People’s Fighters’ (Halkın Mücahitleri) against Iran, also started a new operation against Kurds. By using chemical weapons procured from the West, massacred people in Halepce and Dohuk. Thousands of Kurdish people escaped from those massacres and took shelter in Turkey.
In order to weaken the military power of Iraq, its attack to Kuwait at 2 August 1990 was not acted upon immediately, but later an international military force was established to fight against Iraq. Saddam Hussein, removed his precious Republic Guard’s to Baghdad and left Iraqi forces consisting of Turks and Kurds at Kuwait. Most of those soldiers died under heavy air force attacks while others were surrendered. Iraq accepted its defeat by allowing the elimination of its arms by United Nations, to pay the cost of war loss and to leave Kuwait the Umkasr port and petroleum wells.
At that time, Iraqi opponents, decided to initiate a major rebellion after the Beirut Meeting and following March 1991, Northern Iraq – including Kerkük, Tuzhurmatu, Kızılrubat and Mendeli cities – was cleared from Saddam forces by Kurds and Turks. On the other side, Southern Iraq Shiis (?) captured all southern cities by a rebel started at Basra. The shii forces, when came 20 km.s nearby of Baghdad, requested assistance of the International Force but met with their response of “we can not interfere the internal affairs of Iraq“. So, the international interference against Iraq and Saddam administration stayed unsolved.
Saddam accepted all the requests of the Western states. Western states, who were scared of losing control of petroleum regions under Shii and Iran‘s control, permitted Saddam‘s operation against his opponents. At first, Republican Guards stopped Shiis at the south by a great massacre and killed 150.000 people. Afterwards, by turning north, Saddam‘s forces captured all Turk cities and only at Altunköprü, they executed 83 people at 1991, March 28. They killed 6,000 people at Erbil and captured all cities including Dohuk. Thousands of people living in this region were obliged to take shelter in Turkey and Iran.
When hundred thousands of people lost their lives and land, Western Forces re-entered into the scene. At 5 April 1991, following the United Nations’ decision numbered 688, “secure regions” were declared both in South and North Iraq. North Iraq Secure Region, which was also known as 36. parallel, in fact aimed to protect the Kurdish Autonomous Region as designated on 1970. Although Musul was on the 36. Parallel, it was left outside of the secure region, while Talabani governed Suleymaniye was included on the secure region, though stayed under the 36. parallel. The vast Turk regions of Telafer, Musul, Kerkük and Altunköprü were left completely to the pity of Saddam.
Iraq National Turk Party was established in 1988 to save and protect the Turks, officially declared itself in 1991. Iraqi Turks Front (ITC) was established at 1995, April 24 with the participation other major Turk parties and entities. Center of which located at KDP controlled Erbil, ITC’s power was increased with the support of Turkey. It leaded the life struggle of Turks at Erbil and Talabani controlled Kifri, with institutions like schools, hospitals, press and TVs and accepted as the official representative of the Iraqi Turks. Despite this, oppression policy of KDP administration continued over Turks. They completed everything needed to be state; from its official organs to its flag and parliament. They enforced Kurdish education in Turk schools, and prohibited buying real estate, and trading of vehicles. Turks were treated as secondary people in all local Kurdish institutions.
Kurds and Turks who became allies after the Gulf War with the pressure of USA, had their parliament met on 1922, May 5 and shared the assigned member of parliaments equally. But this alliance was for a short period. They had disagreements over the share of power and incomes and as seen on our map, KDP dominated the north of Secure region while KYB dominated south of it. Besides this, Kurdish Muslim Union under the leadership of Dr. Selahaddin Mahmud had power at cities like Zaho, Dohuk and Süleymaniye, while Kurdish Muslim Movement, under the leadership of Sheikh Ali -after Sheikh Osman’s death – had power at Halepçe.
At Kandil Mountains, which lays through the North Iraq – Iranian Border; PKK terrorist were located. At the present, we still see the same structure. USA has brought two major Kurdish groups together on the beginning of October 2002, prior to Intervention to Iraq and convened Kurdish parliament at Erbil. Iraqi Oppositions meeting was held in London, between 14-17 January 2002. Only 4 Turk representative could take place in Monitoring and Coordination Council of totaling 75 member. This council convened at Erbil in mid January 2003 and formed the Steering Committee.
Everybody accepts that, USA reached intervention to Iraq decision in order to strengthen its collapsing economy and especially defense industry. The establishment of a Kurdish State scenario is used as blackmail item against Turkey in order to enforce some of its requests and prohibit Turkey‘s interference to petroleum regions like Kerkuk and Musul. USA and Britain, are looking ways to stay in Iraq, which owns the total world reserve’s 11.5% and world’s richest petroleum mines of South Iraq and Basra.