A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New MEI Podcast: Joost Hiltermann on the Kurds

Tuesday Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group spoke at MEI on "Iraq and the Kurds: Trouble Along the Trigger Line". The link on the title takes you to a page about the event. The podcast is here, and as always I note that when you click on the link, the podcast begins to play.


LJ Marczak said...

Perhaps, you could say something about the role of the Turcomen/Turkmen population in Northern Iraq.

Hilterman didn't mention them in his otherwise comprehensive speech. I acknowledge that there is a reference to them in the ICT report, e.g., tangentially in the context of power sharing formula for Kirkuk.

However, it seems that they are largely ignored --their territorial claims, their agenda. They don't seem to be considered an actor in the issue. Or if they are, not one worthy of attention.

My experience - admittedly limited -- is that this is pretty much par for the course.

At a Patrick Seale speech in Bahrain a couple of years ago, a Turcoman Iraqi I know specifically asked about the Turcomen. Seale either didn't hear or chose to ignore the question.

Do you have any suggestions on articles to read or insights of you own on this topic?

Michael Collins Dunn said...

I'll need to check my inbox. In the early years of the Iraq war I got regular mailings from one ofd the Iraqi Turcoman groups. I also have a book somewhere on the Turkoman right to Kirkuk. There are quite a few websites in Turkish, though at the moment the only one with some English I can find is here: http://hem.spray.se/kervanci-oglu/index1.html.

LJ Marczak said...


The website repeats what I heard from my Iraqi Turkmen friends in terms of numbers of Turkmen in Iraq and their forced classification as either Arabs or Kurds. Both friends placed the onus more on the Kurds than the Arabs for mistreatment. I don't know why that is. Both were from the same region.

Are there any scholarly or relatively non partisan studies you're aware of on this topic?

Michael Collins Dunn said...

Are there any scholarly or relatively non partisan studies you're aware of on this topic?

Not off the top of my head. I've had a couple of submissions to MEJ on the subject, but they were too polemical to publish. I'm not sure anybody has done this really objectively, though if any readers know of something, please post. As I say, I have some publications on the subject, but they're polemical.

I share your sense that it boils down to a Turkoman vs. Kurd thing, but in part I think that's because only the Arab nationalist types argue that Kirkuk has any historic claims to be a Kurdish city.

I also think I've read somewhere that despite the name "Turkoman" or "Turkmen" applied to the Turkish-speaking residents of northern Iraq, they aren't linguistically or ethnically close to the Central Asian Turkmen, so much as to Anatolian Turks.

Anyway, maybe I'll do a Kirkuk post, and let the sparks fly in the comments section.

Michael Collins Dunn said...

Sorry in my last comment, I meant to say only Arab nationalists belive Kirkuk has any claim to be an Arab city, not a Kurdish one.