The Turkoman (or Turkmen,Turkman) people of Iraq are the third ethnic group that constitute that nation along with Arabs and Kurds. They live in a strip of territory that runs diagonally across the north of the country from Syria to Iran. They form a significant fraction of the population in the the Mosul, Arbil, Kirkuk and Diyalah regions. They divide the Arabs in the south from the Kurds in the northern mountains. There are between 2 and 2.5 million Turkoman people. Official Iraqi sources estimates that they comprise 5% of the total population while Turkoman sources claim 10-15%. They are mostly Muslim.

The Turkoman are thought to be decendents of Oguz tribesmen from modern day Turkmenistan. It is thought that the they arrived in Iraq in several stages. The first was during the reign of the Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad in the 9th century when they were hired for their fighting prowess. A second major group settled during the Seljouki era. The 13th century invasion of the Mongols and the 16th century incursion from Azerbaijan is thought to have brought more people of Turkic origin. The final wave was during the period of the Ottoman empire.

The Turkoman of Iraq are distinct from the Anatolian Turks of modern day Turkey. Though they share the same writing with their Turkish cousins their dialect is closer to that spoken in Azerbaijan.

When a monarchy was established in Iraq by the British in 1921 there was some dispute with Turkey over the location of the northern border of the nascent state. This was resolved by the Anatolian agreement signed in 1926. In the first constitution of Iraq the Turkoman were recognised as a special minority to be accorded cultural rights and protection.

With the coming to power of the Ba'ath party in 1968, life for the Turkoman population has deterioted. A process of Arabization in the oil-rich north was begun. Many Turkoman now live in Baghdad. Their special status was removed in the 1990 constitution. Saddam Hussein has used the emnity that exists between the Turkoman and Kurdish people to his advantage. He banned the Turkish media and the study of the Turkish language.

Following the Gulf War and the establishment of a safe haven north of the 36th parallel, the Iraqi Turkoman have been split between the Arab and Kurd dominated regions. The Iraqi National Turkic Front was established in 1995. It aims are to promote democracy in Iraq and restore the constitutional provisons for the Turkoman. It does not favour the breakup of the Iraq.


Iraqi Turks (also known as Iraqi Turkmen) is an ethnic group in Turkmeneli, Iraq.

The Turkmen of Iraq are not to be confused with the Turkmen of Central Asia who reside primarily in Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Iran. Iraqi Turkmen form a distinct group within the Oghuz Turk classification, which includes Ottoman Turks, modern Turkish people, Azeris, and the Turkmen of Central Asia.

The Iraqi Turks speak a dialect of Turkish that is heavily influenced by Arabic and Ottoman Turkish. For their written language, they use the standard Turkish language and Latin-based Turkish alphabet.

The term Turkmen for Iraqi Turks seems to have been created during the course of the discussion on the Mosul issue in the third decade of the last century, in order to isolate the Iraqi Turks from Turkey. This was used as a factor against Turkey during negotiations, in order to join this oil rich Ottoman province to the newly founded Iraq by Britain.

Iraqi Turks are the third main ethnic community in Iraq, representing about 13% of the Iraqi people.

Iraqi Turks have suffered from various degrees of suppression and assimilation that ranged from political persecution and exile to terror, massacres and ethnic cleansing. Arab tribes were settled west of Kerkuk. During the early republican era, Communist and separatist groups committed the Kerkuk Massacre of July, 1959 which aimed at terrorizing and ethnically cleansing the Turkmen from the city.

The assimilation of the Turkmen already became a state policy in 1971 when the General Assembly of the Baath Party decided to complete the Arabization of Kerkuk by 1980. Iraqi Turks are continuously denied political rights and systematically faced assimilation.


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