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Turkmens of Iraq: Settlement Background

Iraq is known to the world as Mesopotamia, which means fertile land, by Hamurabi, the founders of the law, cuneiform writings and the hanging gardens of Babylonian. The land can be considered the original home of writing, astronomy and the earliest skill and concepts. Iraq survived one of the world's first urban and literate civilisations. It was probably the most wealthy area in the Middle East.

From early as 4000 DC, tens of nations could establish great civilisations in many regions of Iraq. Sumerians appeared in the Delta region of the Tigris and the Euphrates. Acadian's civilisation was in 2350 BC. By the 17th century DC, the Assyrians had created a vast empire, which ended in 609 DC. After Babylonians fell the Mesopotamia to the Persians in 550 DC.

Later on, Iraq became a battlefield between many rivals; Greeks, Seleucid, Romans and Sasanians. Byzantines ruled Iraq until the 7th century.

After defeat of the Arab forces under Abu Ubeyd El-Thekafi at the battle of Bridge by Persians, Iraq was re-attacked and occupied by a much larger Arab force under Saad bin Ebi Wakkas in El-Kadisiye battle. Mass immigration of Arabs from eastern Arabia and Oman to the south of Iraq followed in 637 AC1.

The term Iraq was not used until the 6th century. The medieval Arabic sources used the term Iraq for the area in the centre and south of the modern republic as a geographic rather than a political term. The area of modern Iraq north of Tikrit was known as El-Jezire, which means "The Island" and refers to the "island" between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers1.

The fourth Caliph El-Imam Ali changed the capital of Islam from El-Medina in the Arabic semi-island to El-Kufe in the south of Iraq. Later on, Iraq was divided into few principalities under the Umayyad Caliphate in Syria. The Arabic rule of Iraq continued with Abbasids Caliphate, whose capital was Baghdad, until 945 AC.

With the early appearance of Turkmen in Iraq during the Umayyad dynasty, their number increased to the degree, which they predominated the army of Abbasids Caliphate. They were holding heads of the troops and important administrative jobs and influencing directly the determination of Caliph. The actual Turkmen sovereignties in Iraq started in 11th century with the Seljuk Empire, which continued for about a millennium and ended in 1918 after the First World War. The immigration of Turkmen continued with different sized groups until the later decades of the Ottomans Empire, during which they founded principalities, polities and Empires.

Turkmen immigration waves started in the 7th century from Middle Asia toward the south and the west. During this period millions of Turkmen were established in northern west Asia and southern east Europe. The immigration waves entered Iraq through two pathways. The eastern pathway through which entered Seljuk's and Timurids from Iran and the northern pathway through which entered Ak Koyunli and Ottomans from the republic of Azerbaijan and of Anatolia.

The main reason of these immigrations was to reinforce the Islam armies and later to establish principalities, dynasties and empires. The substructures of political administrations and armies of these polities were mainly formed from Turkmen, who predominated gradually the population in northern Iraq. From the time of Jalayirids dynasty, the Turkmen language gained a great importance and became as an official language of Iraq(2). In the Ottoman's era, Baghdad was considered an important centre of Turkmen culture, poem, arts and music.

Due to the deficiency of fine and detail sources over the Turkmen settlement periods in the international library, it is difficult to classify it according to the size or causes. The establishment of new polities and entry of new tribes and troops can present a better method to determine the stages of Turkmen settlement in Iraq.

The holiness of fighting for Islam, which still constitutes the mentality of strict religious people and clerical, was the main cause which made the new Islam embrace Turkmen to enter the armies during the Umayyad and Abbasids dynasties. Later on, this took the form of protectors of Islam in all the polities, which the Turkmen founded. The other secondary causes of Turkmen immigrations were to join the families or tribes, to improve the standard of living and to trade. The similarity of climate and nature between these areas compared to Middle Asia was another factor(3).

Some of the sources mentioned that Turkmen were joined to the Caliphate armies as mercenaries. While the historical analysis shows that they remained attached to the teachings of Islam and regulations of the state even at the time in which they were forming the dominant military power during the Abbasids Caliphate. These behaviours were absolutely not expected from mercenaries.

The Turkmen settlement in Iraq can be divided according to the above-mentioned factors into seven stages.

I. Umayyad and Abbasids Stage.

II. Seljuk Stage (1055-1258).

a. Great Seljuk Empire (1055-1194).

b. Iraq Seljuk's (1118-1194).

c. Atabeg or Zangid state (1127 - 1259).

d. Erbil Atabegs (1144-1209).

e. Kipcak state (1230-

III. Ìlhans Stage (1258-1410)

a. Ìlhans state (1258-1335)

b. Jalayirds state (1335-1410)

IV. Timurids Stage (1393-1412)

For several years

V. Koyunli* Stage (1375-1508)

a. Kara Koyunli* (Baranli) state (1375-1468)

b. Ak Koyunli (Bayindirli) state (1378 - 1508)

VI. Safavids Stage

Safavids state (1508-1534)

VII. Ottomans Stage

The Ottomans Empire (1532-1918)

I. First Stage

Umayyad and Abbasids Stage

In this stage the only cause of immigration was to join the Islam armies. Being skilled and sincere fighters, many governors and Caliphs of Islam recruited them as soldiers which in short time they could engage important military positions.

Some of the writers consider this stage as the introduction of Turkmen to the people, climate, and the nature of the region(4).

A. The earlier entrance of Turkmen in to Iraq dated back to 674 AC (54 Hegira). The Umayyad governor Ubeydullah bin Ziyad was the first who recruited 2000 Muslim Turks and brought them to Basrah(5).

B. The fearsome El-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf who was appointed as a governor to control the unstable situation in Iraq constructed his army from the Turkmen and settled them in the present Turkmen area, Bedre district of El-Kut state(6).

The great historian of the Abbasids dynasty Ibn Hurdazbe mentioned in his book "El-Mesalik and El-Memalik" that the governor of Khorasan Abdullah bin Tahir was recruiting 2000 Turkmen every year according to the directives of Caliph(7).

C. The Turkmen families who were brought by Caliph Ebu Cafer El-Mansur between 754 and 775 were also settled in the same area(8), (9).

D. The Caliph Harun El-Reshid formed a military Inspection Unit from the efficient Turkmen soldiers to protect Baghdad between 786 and 809 Hegira(8).

E. The Abbasids Caliph El-Mutasim formed highly efficient forces from Turkmen. During the following period the Turkmen completely controlled the politic and military life. According to some sources, during the Caliphate of El-Mutasim, 40 000 Turkmen with their families were settled in Baghdad and Samarra. He employed 10.000 of them as special guards(10). Later, the presence of the Turkmen in Iraq greatly increased to the degree, which they were a lonely, determining the Caliphs.

F. In the first half of 10th century, the newly immigrated Turkmen troops from Anatolia supported the Hamdanids army to control the north of Iraq (El-Jezire).

G. A large number of Azerbaijanis Turkmen families settled in Iraq, with the entrance of Buyids to Baghdad in 945. The largest groups entered Iraq with the troops of Buyids leader Miz El-Devle between 877 and 98311. During this period, the Turkmen formed a great political and military power, which enforced the Buyids leaders to support them in the case of internal conflicts(12).

With their families and later joined relatives, these groups formed the nucleus of Turkmen settlement in Iraq.

II. Second stage

Seljuk Stage (1055-1258)

According to many writers(4), (13) or historians(14), (15) large immigration waves entered Iraq during this stage. This can also be understood from the size of the Empire and the number of polities, which they established.

The largest of these waves reached Iraq at the time of Sultan Tugrul and continued until the end of the Iraqi Seljuk State. These immigrations took the form of groups of families settled mainly in the present central and north of Iraq forming the majority of the population in the region at that time(4).

The Iraqi Historian Dr Mustafa Cevad(16) mentioned: "The influence of the Seljuks over the Iraqi society was great, Thousands of Oguz Turkmen entered Iraq in crowded groups as conquerors".

A. Great Seljuk Empire (1055-1194)

In this stage another Turkmen clan called Seljuk entered Iraq. The Seljuks were the ruling family of Oguz (Ghuzz) Turkmen, which came from Kinik tribes. They had early embraced Islam and founded a powerful Empire from the boundary of India in the east to the borders of Egypt and the Aegean Sea in the west, from Azerbaijan in the north to Omen in the South. The Empire's name was taken from the name of tribe's chieftain and founder of Empire Seljuk.

In 1040s, the foremost troops of Seljuk conquerors started reaching to Iraq from Iran. The unstable political situation during the Buyids dynasty (945-1055), made the Caliph send an envoy to the Seljuk leader Tugrul Beg in Rey asking his help(17). At 25 December 1055, Tugrul Beg (son of Seljuk) entered Baghdad, which he considered it later, the second capital of Seljuk Empire, and rapidly established a secure government over all Iraq. While his brother Çagri Beg remained in control of the great part of Khorasan. In the second half of 11th and the first half of 12th century, they gradually established more or less direct rule over all Arabian Iraq. A leader from the third generation, which was called Alp-Arslan, won immortal fame when he defeated a huge Byzantine army at Malazgirt in 1071. The formalisation of relation between Tugrul Beg, as a Sultan, and Caliph, as a religious authority, by the great Islam theologian Imam El-Gazali was universalised in the educational institutions El- Madrasahs. At this time, the authority of caliph was restricted only to the religious fields. The Arabic-religio-political status started. The most famous Madrasah was Nizamiye in Baghdad. These institutions were giving uniform training in administration, religious law and religion. At the time of Malikshah, Baghdad was considered as a centre of Turkish-Islam Empire.

Seljuk power was at its zenith during the reigns of sultans Alp-Arslan (1063 - 72) and Malik Shah (1072 - 92), who with their Vezier Nizam El-Mulk, revived Sunnite Islamic administrative and religious institutions. They developed armies as well as an elaborate bureaucratic hierarchy that provided the foundation for governmental administration in the Middle East until modern times. The Seljuk's revived and reinvigorated the classical Islamic educational system, developing universities (madrasahs) to train bureaucrats and religious officials.

The Seljuk's could reunite parts of Islam world between, which the relations and connections were ill organised. This brought with it a sort of stabilisation, which attributed to the victories against crusaders18.

The disagreements between the members of the ruling family, which continued for many decades, had exhausted the Empire. In the time of Malikshah, the Seljuk Empire was divided into 4 dynasties:

1- Iraq and Khorasan Seljuk from 1118 until 1194.

2- Kirman Seljuk from 1092 until 1187.

3- Syrian Seljuk from 1092 until 1117.

4- Turkey Seljuk from 1092 until 1308.

The north of Iraq had strong ties to the provinces of Diyar Bakir and Azerbaijan in the Great Seljuk Empire. The central and the south of Iraq, which was also called Arabic Iraq, were politically bounded to Azerbaijan and north east of present Iraq, which was called Persian Iraq.

B. Iraq Seljuk's (1118 - 1194)

After the death of Sejuk Sultan Mehmet taper, his son Mahmut established the independent Iraqi Seljuk State. For the end of 13th century it is conquered by Mosul Zangids.

C. Atabeg or Zangid state (1127 - 1259)

This Turkmen tribe, which was related to the Avsar clans of Oguz, entered Iraq from the west (Aleppo) and Anatolia.

Atabeg is a term and Zangid is the name of the founder of the state. Atabeg is a Turkmen word, which is formed from 2 parts. Ata means father or ancestor, while Beg means Mr or sir. The counsellor of Seljuk leaders, particularly of those at very young ages, were mentioned Atabeg15. The Atabegs were selected from the well-known military persons or influential heads of tribes. Imadeddin's father ruled Aleppo from 1087 as a supporter of the Seljuk's.

The Zangids polity passed through 3 periods:

1- Supporters of Great Seljuk Empire.

2- Supporters of Iraqi Seljuk's.

3- Independent state.

The first Atabeg State was founded in Aleppo in 1104. In 1127, another Turkmen chieftain called Imadeddin Zangi founded more powerful Atabeg state in Mosul city at the north of Iraq (1127 - 1222). Both of these states united in 1128 to form the larger Atabeg State, which was also called Zangid State. Later, the third Atabeg State was established in Azerbaijan. In its top the Zangids ruled northern Iraq, Syria, Nusaybin, Mardin and Harran. They subjugated Egypt for some period. They could also control Persian Iraq (northern east). The state founder Imadeddin Zangi built the present Imadiye City in Duhok governorate. The present Mucahideddin Kaymaz mosque in Mosul and the Great Mosques of Mosul and Aleppo cities were built at this time. The Zangids showed superiority in the fightings against crusades, which acquired them fame.

The Mosul reached its political zenith under the Zangids time. Famous schools of metalwork and miniature painting arose in the area at this time. They developed an extraordinarily refined technique of inlay overshadowing the earlier work of the Samanids and the Buyids. In painting they had a sharper sense of realism.

The Erbil Atabegs founded in 1144 by Zeynuddin Ali Küçük. in addition to Erbil City They ruled Kerkuk, Tikrit, Imadiye, Sincar, Harran and Hakkari until 1209. After the blindness of Küçük, this state annexed to the Mosul Atabeg. Remnants of the school, which was built by Gökbörü, are still present in Erbil City as the broken Minaret.

D. Kipcak (Kifcak) (1230 - ...)

Kipcaks was another Turkmen tribe. They ruled the area as supporter of Seljuk Sultan. These groups, who had populated Kermanshah region in the lower Iranian Azerbaijan, are expected to have entered Iraq from the east. They supported Seljuk Sultan when conflict took place with the Caliph. During decline of Seljuk's power they could establish a principality in 1230 called Iwakiye. Their state included Kerkuk, Hilvan and Karmenshah.

III. Third Stage

Ìlhans Stage (1258 - 1410)

A. Ìlhans (1258 - 1335)

During the early years of the 3rd decade of the 13th century the non-Muslim Mogol Altaic tribes started to enter Khwarezm and Iraq after the failure of the agreement, which they had established with Khwarezm Shah in 1218. In 1258, they invested Baghdad after repeated attacks, which had continued for many years. The obstinate resistant had later exposed Baghdad to the horrible injuries and massacre. The Arabic-religio-political status was ended and the Caliph was killed. The Capital was based in Tebriz City of Iranian Azerbaijan. Baghdad was made the capital of central and northern Iraq, while Mosul was made the capital of Diyar Bakir province. The Ìlhans were subordinated to the great Han in China. Under the control of Mogol authorities civilians from all the religions, Shiites as a Muslims, shared in the polity of state. The Ìlhan Mahmut Ghazan converted to Islam in 1295. In the fourth decade of the 14th century, the two Mogol states were established after disagreement between the military authorities. The states of Sulduz and Jalayirds were founded in Azerbaijan and Baghdad, respectively.

B. Jalayirds (1335 - 1410)

Most of the sources consider Jalayirids as Mogul tribes19, while few others relate them to Turkmen origin 20. The founder of the Jalayirids polity Sheyh Hasan served as governor of Anatolia between 1317 - 35. After intense conflicts between the family members, the Ìlhan Empire broke down into local states in Anatolia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia. Sheyh Hasan declared independence in Anatolia. He made Baghdad the capital of the polity in 1339. In 1358, they could conquer Azerbaijan and the capital Tebriz from Sulduz. In 1364, Mosul and Diyar Bakir could be included. During this period the trade, poetry, calligraphy was fostered and creating the great irrigating channels revived the agriculture. The Jalayirid School of miniature Painting developed a system of perspective that had been suggested by the Ìlhan painting school of Tebriz. The historical Gök dome remnant in Kerkuk City is related to Jalayirids.

However, the westward migrations and invasions of various Turkic and Mongol tribes, beset the state. The Hans of the Golden Horde, successors of Batu, unsuccessfully attempted to conquer Azerbaijan in 1356 - 59. The later Jalayirids, however, dissipated their energies in fruitless foreign adventures and fratricidal struggles.

IV. Fourth Stage

Timurids Stage (1393 - 1412)

During the short interval in which Timurids ruled Iraq, mass immigration of Turkmen followed from Iran. Therefore, this period can be considered as a separate Turkmen settlement stage.

The struggles between the members of the ruling family had declined the authority of Jalayirids. New Altaic tribes under the leadership of Timurlang, who claimed descent from Cengiz Han's family, entered Iraq from the east and conquered Baghdad in 1393. The remnants of the Jalayirids were pushed south to El-Hillah, Wasit, and Basra. In the beginning, Timurids were subordinated to the Çagatay Hans, whom they later replaced. They ruled mainly the central and north of Iraq for several years. They reached Ankara in the north and Syria in the west and to the China boundaries in the east. In 1405, one of the Jalayirids regained Baghdad until 1910. It is well known to the historians that Timurids had entered Iraq with 100,000 Turkmen captives to establish their principality21.

V. Fifth Stage

Koyunli* Stage (1375 - 1508)

The two Turkmen Koyunli states had alternated ruling Iraq for more than one century. The Kara Koyunli Turkmen were dominating western Iran while the Ak Koyunlis were established in Anatolia for a long time. These two immigration waves entered Iraq at different times from east and north consecutively. This era started in 1410 with the beginning of the Kara Koyunli State in Mosul City, which ended with the entry of the Kizilbash Turkmen troops of Safavids to Baghdad in 1508. Both Koyunli tribes originated from the 24 Oguz clans. In this period, the Turkmen religio-political status replaced the Arabic-religio-political status, which was ended by Ìlhans.

A. Kara Koyunli* (Baranli) State (1375 - 1468)

The other name of this polity was Baran. It is mentioned in some sources that Baran was one of Oguz sons. This Turkmen State ruled Azerbaijan and Iraq from 1375 to 1468. During the early years of Kara Koyunli State in Mosul, the Seljuk’s were ruling the central and northern parts of Iraq. Kara Koyunli ruled Syria and the area from Mosul in northern Iraq to Erzurum in the center of Anatolia and Iranian Azerbaijan as supporters of Jalayirids until foundation of this state. By the seizure of Mosul City in 1374 this state secured the independence. Later, they moved toward the south conquering Erbil, Kerkuk and Tavuk. After the seizure of Tebriz in 1390, the area of Kara Koyunli included almost all of northern Iran. In 1393 with appearance of Timur in Iraq, Kara Koyunli had become supporter of Timurids. In 1400, Timur routed Kara Koyunli. After the death of Timur they regained independence in 1406 and established the large Kara Koyunli State, which extended from Georgia in the north to Basra gulf in the south, from Khorasan in the east to Syria in the west. The Baharli and Bawat were tribes of Kara Koyunli. The present settlement regions of Kara Koyunli in Iraq are mainly in the Mosul governorate:

Yukari Kara Koyunli< Asagi Kara Koyunli Cemaliye Residiye

Kadiye Biiweyze Direç Cinci

Yarimca Fadiliye Orta Harab Tel Yara

Omer Kayci

Many types of coins were used by the people of this state over which the pictures of early Islam Caliphs and religious phrases were present.

B. Ak Koyunlu (Bayindirli) State (1378 - 1508)

The Ak Koyunli tribes can be considered a new immigration wave. Their existence in Mesopotamia turns back to 134022. From that time they ruled Diyar Bekir as supporters of Timurids. This Turkmen federation ruled northern Iraq, Azerbaijan and eastern Anatolia from 1378 &#8211; 1508. Ak Koyunli was related to the other son of Oguz called Bayindir. In 1403 and after taking Tebriz, Ak Koyunli established an independent principality in Diyar Bakir. They entered Baghdad in 1468. This period was more peaceful then the Kara Koyunlu time. Ak Koyunli state in its zenith included all Iraq, Iran as Far East as Khorasan, east of present Turkey and Azerbaijan. Development of politics, military, economy, literary and arts took place during the period of Uzun Hasan. The application of orthodox principles by Uzun Hasan of Ak Koyunli declined their popularity. The internal strife affected the power of this state for a while. The coins of Ak Koyunli contained the pictures of their Sultans Zeynel Oguzlu and the second Hasan.

VI. Sixth Stage

Safavids Stage(1508 &#8211; 1534)

The Sunnite sect formed all the former states, principalities or Empire of Turkmen in Iraq. The new troops of the Shiite sect entered Iraq in this period called Kizilbash Turkmen. After Safavids supplantated Ak Koyunli in Azerbaijan and they defeated them in a battle near the present city of Nahchevan in the Far East Turkey in 1501 - 1502. These troops defeated the Ak Koyunli also in Iraq after which they entered Baghdad under the leadership of Ismail Shah in 150823. They ruled Baghdad until 1534 and lower Iraq until 1538. The about 40% Turkmen Shiites is expected to be entered Iraqi mainly in this stage. They live inside and around Kerkuk City. Large number of Shebeks, Bajalan and Sarli who live inside and around Mosul city, are Turkmen from the Shiite sect. Some of the sources relate Ismail Shah to the successor of the profit Muhammed Imam Musa El-Kadim, while the others denied this affinity. Riza Nur, in his book The History of Turk, related hem to Turkish origin by referring to his book, which was written in Turkmen. It is well known that his mother was the daughter of Uzun Hasan of Ak Koyunli. The famous Safawiye sect, which was later converted to the present name Kizibash sect, is founded by one of his ancestors24.

The Shiite&#8217;s holy places in Iraq, which were mainly concentrated in Kerbela and Nejef, were rebuilt and irrigation canals of these regions were constructed.

VII. Seventh Stage

Ottomans Stage (1532 - 1918)

Ottoman was the chieftain of Kayi tribe of Oguz family. They lived in Anatolia a few centuries before the establishment of the empire. The Ottoman Empire was a Muslim Turkmen state that included Anatolia, southern east Europe, and the Arab Middle East and North Africa from the 14th until the early decades of the 20th century. It succeeded both the Byzantine Empire, whose capital was the present Istanbul, it made its own in 1432. The Ottomans Empire was finally broken up at the end of World War I, when its heartland of Anatolia became the Republic of Turkey.

The Ottoman troops conquered northern Iraq in 1514. In 1533, Suleyman the Magnificent integrated Baghdad (central Iraq) into the empire. Southern or lower Iraq was incorporated by the middle of 16th century.

Expansion of the vast Ottoman political and economic sphere to include Iraq brought with it certain advantages. Under the watchful eye of Süleyman I's government, local administration was reorganised. The trade was increased. The economic and living conditions of most of the inhabitants improved. The towns, especially Baghdad, experienced some growth and new building.

Large numbers of Turkmen families entered Iraq with the Ottoman campaigns25. The immigration waves during this period can be divided into two groups:

A. Those who entered from the north and northern west (Anatolia)

The presence of a Shiite majority in the central and south of Iraq, the great competition with the Persian and to keep the routes of pilgrimage save made the Ottoman Sultans to set out many campaigns and reinforce their troops continuously.

The following campaigns were arranged by the Ottoman to conquer Iraq or to repulse Persians:

1. Sultan Selim I campaign to conquer northern Iraq in 1514.

2. Süleyman the Magnificent&#8217;s campaign that incorporated central Iraq into the Ottomans Empire in 1533.

3. Campaign to incorporate Basra in 1546.

4. Campaigns between 1624 and 1645 to regain Kerkuk, central and south of Iraq from the Persians.

5. Campaigns of 80.000 soldiers of Osman Pasha in 1733, was another campaign to regain central and southern Iraq from the Persians.

6. Campaign to suppress the mutiny of Davud Pasha in 1821.

B. Those who entered from the east (Iran)

The Shiite Turkmen entered Iraq also with the Persian campaigns who could capture many time and different parts of Iraq.

1. The troops of Safavids, who re-occupied central Iraq in 1623, were formed mainly from the Shiite Turkmen.

2. The Persians Troops, who captured shortly many parts of Iraq and for many times between 1730 and 1831, were including Turkmen. Particularly, The troops of the Persian leader Nadir Shah included large numbers of Azerbaijanis Turkmen23.

Some historians of the last century limited the Turkmen settlement in Iraq only to the Ottoman era, denying the other six immigration stages: soldiers at the time of Umayyad and Abbasids, the Great Seljuks Empire, Ìlhans, Timurids, Koyunlis and Safavids. These groups were from different tribes, entered Iraq in different times and from different directions and ruled Iraq for about one thousand years.

When the Ottoman Empire was dismembered in 1918 the name Iraq had not been attached to any provinces of the Kingdom of Iraq. The term Iraq was attached to the Arabian Iraq, which roughly formed central and south of present Iraq. During the last decades of 19th century, the north of Iraq had no administrative relation and was independent from the central province Baghdad.

The groups of the earlier stages had been mainly assimilated5, 26, 27. The Benifigan and Sencer tribes in Shatra and Duraku tribe around the south governorates of Iraq are of Turkish origin. The Hatavi tribe, who still uses a lot of Turkish words, is of Tatar origin. The early immigrants were settled in the present large Buhariyye neighbourhood in Basra, which the name Buhariye was taken from their homeland Buhara in Middle Asia, had completely been assimilated. The present Hallaj neighbourhood in El-Hille was taken from the name of El-Hallaj Turkmen tribes who were also assimilated. Other assimilated groups like §aklavan and Ho§nav tribes live around Erbil governorate, Ravanduz and Koysancak. The number of Turkmen who settled in Baghdad is expected to be much larger than the 300,000 Turkmen who at the time being live in Baghdad city, which its population is 6-7 million. The old Turkmen neighbourhoods in Baghdad are Ragibe Hatun*, Azamiye, Karakol*, Hyderhane*, Hasan Pa§a*, Fadil and Bab El-Sheyh.

The theory, which is repeatedly mentioned by the Arabic and some foreigner sources, and refereed eagerly by Kurdish writers, did not depend on any logical bases. This theory states that the Ottomans had deliberately settled Turkmen on the line from Telafer district in western north of Mosul Governorate to Bedre district in the east of El-Kut governorate, to protect the northern boundary of Empire, the transport routes of cereals and the trade routes.

The only rival of the Ottoman Empire in this region was the Shiite Persian of Iran. To reach the Ottoman Sultan in Istanbul or to occupy the fruitful area in Mesopotamia, the Persians could simply avoid the mentioned line. Wherever the capital or the centre of power of this rival was located, which was mainly in the capital of Iranian Azerbaijan Tebriz, it was easier to spore the line directly from the east of present Turkey or the line to Syria and Anatolia to reach the capital. Therefore, the line from Telafer to Bedre cannot be considered as a military defence line between Ottomans and Persians.

The main transport cereal routes were from Mesopotamia in Diyar Bekir and this line had no control over those routes. The eastern border of present Turkey was the shortest route for the Persians to take up the fruitful Mesopotamia region in the Diyar Bakir province.

Let us accept the theory and say that the Ottomans consciously settled the Turkmen on such a line. The distance between Telafer and Bedre is about 600 km, which demands a huge number of settlers. The question, which will arise here, is why did they not settle Turkmen in the large trade centre Baghdad and Mosul? Furthermore, the Ottoman Empire was a completely religious state without any nationalistic mentality.

It is important here to touch the factors, which are hidden behind the minimisation of the Turkmen reality in Iraq and brought serious disasters for this population:

1. The Turkmen settlement areas in the north of Iraq are rich of oil fields, natural gas28, fruitful farmlands and other minerals like copper. Kerkuk City is a trade and export centre for the surrounding area's agricultural products, sheep, wool, cheese29and cattle. Textiles are manufactured there. Until before the economic embargo in 1990, sixty-six percent of Iraq oil30 and 2.2% of world oil31 were produced in Kerkuk city. Sulphur32 is exploited since the seventies. A huge petrol refinery32, 33 is present at the north of the city. In the fourties of the last century, the Turkmen concentration was 90% in Kerkuk City. After Arabization and Kurdization and forced immigration, their percentage has now clearly decreased.

2. The number of Turkmen was the main factor in determining the proprietor of the Mosul province, between the republic Turkey and Iraq, during the negotiation in the League of Nations, which had treated the Mosul conflict after the failure of Lozano treaty.

The region was already occupied by British troops. The presence of the huge petroleum reserves was already known. A considerable opposition against the Turkish administration with the employment of the nationalism mentality had been formed.

All these factors have co-operated to start the sufferings of a population, which lasts for about one century.

3. The benefits of British Administration and the Arabs were attributed to suppress the Turkmen number in the first half of the 20th century. From the beginning of the second half of the same century, the aggressive conflicts between their rivals, Arabs and Kurds, over the rich Turkmen areas formed the basis of continuous and deliberate minimisation of their presence and persisting that they are a "small minority" and "newcomers".

4. At the time being, the well-known policy of the international powers to keep the great oil areas in the Middle East quiet is another factor which attributes to ignore the sufferings of Iraqi people, particularly the Turkmen.

5- The Turkmen are a peaceful quiet nation, who declined participation in the usually undemocratic, turbulent and violent Iraqi politics. Actually, they are the only people in Iraq who did not revolt or resort to arms for their rights.

Therefore, limitation of the Turkmen settlement period in Iraq only to the few Ottoman Sultans&#8217; campaigns and minimisation of their number can be easily seen in Arabs, some foreigners and Kurdish sources.


1. &#8220;Encyclopedia Britannica&#8221;1992, volume 21, page 980.

2. S. Saatçi, &#8220;The historical development of Turks presence in Iraq&#8221; (Turkish), Istanbul 1996, page 82.

3. E. Hürmüzlü, &#8220;Iraqi Turks&#8221; (Turkish), Istanbul 1991, page 31.

4. E. Hürmüzlü, the same preceding source, page 23.

5. El-Tabari, &#8220; The History of the Nations and the Kings&#8221; (Arabic), volume 4, El-Istikame Print House, Cairo 1939, page 221.

6. Glubb Pasha, &#8220;A short History of the Arab People&#8221;, page 77 - 78.

7. §. S. El-Zabit, &#8220;The history of Friendship between Iraq and Turkey&#8221; (Arabic), Dar El-Marife Print House, Baghdad 1955, page 71.

8. F. Demirci, &#8220;The Present and the Past of Iraqi Turkmen&#8221; (Arabic), Print House of Turkish History Institution, Ankara 1991, page 8.

9. Ahmed Hamid El-ssaraf, &#8220;El-Shebek&#8221; (Arabic), Matbaat El-Maarif 1954, page 233. 10. Glubb Pasha, the same preceding source, page 113.

11. F. Demirci, the same preceding source, page 9.

12. S. Saatçi, the same preceding source, page 45.

13. A. Samanci, &#8220;The Political History of Iraqi Turkmen&#8221; (Arabic), El-Saki Print House, First Edition, Beirut 1999, Page 43.

14. A. El-Azzawi, &#8220;The Iraq between two Occupations&#8221;, (Arabic), volume 3, Private Tafayyuz Print House, Baghdad 1939, page 367.

15. S. Saatçi, the same preceding source, page 46.

16. M. Cevad, &#8220;Kerkuk in the History&#8221; (Arabic), Journal of Petroleum Owners, article, Issue 40, Beirut 1954.

17. S. Saatçi, the same preceding source, page 61.

18. M. Enis, &#8220;The Ottomans state and the eastern Arabs&#8221; (Arabic), Englo-Egyptian Library, Cairo 1950, page 10.

19. &#8220;Encyclopedia Britannica&#8221; 1992, volume 21, page 984.

20. A. Samanci, the same preceding source, page 25 and 47.

21. S. G. Edmond, &#8220;Kurds, Turks and Arabs&#8221; (English), page 267.

22. &#8220;Encyclopedia Britannica&#8221; 1992, volume 1, page 184.

23. &#8220;Encyclopedia Britannica&#8221; 1992, volume 21, page 985.

24. A. El-Azzawi, the same preceding source, page 328.

25. H. Batatu, &#8220;The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq&#8221; (English), translation from English, Beirut 1992, page 912.

26. Z. V. Togan, &#8220;Entrance to the General Turkish History&#8221; (Turkish), volume 1, Akgun Print House, Istanbul 1946, page 170.

27. M. El-Beyati, Article, &#8220;Reflection on the Mosul Problem&#8221;, Journal of Middle Asia Association, issue 13, volume 4, London 1926, page 11.

28. &#8220;Encyclopedia Britannica&#8221; 1992, volume 6, page 377.

29. &#8220;The Great Oosthoek Encyclopedia and Dictionary&#8221;, 1978, Dutch version, volume 11, page 264 - 265.

30. &#8220;Great Larousse Encyclopedia&#8221; 1992, Dutch version, volume 13, page 3.

31. Z. Köpürlü, &#8220;Turkish Presence in Iraq&#8221;, By Ornek Limited Company, Ankara 1996, page 22.

32. &#8220;Great Soviet Encyclopedia&#8221; 1976, English version, volume 12, page 510.

33. &#8220;Great Winklier Prins Encyclopedia&#8221; 1984, Dutch version, volume 13, page 374.

Source: Kerkuk City Web Site - http://members.lycos.nl/Kerkuk/index.html