According to the Turkish newspaper Radikal
, Turkey -as we know - is very concerned by the unity of Iraq (in addition too be concerned by its own unity). It worries a lot also about the status of Kirkuk, for it is a matter of principle that the city won't return to Kurdistan, for it would seem the starting-point of independance.
Until now, its attempt of takeover bid on Kirkuk via the Turkmen Front
has had no real success : Turkmen electors rather voted for the Brotherhood
list, including Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen Kirkukis, or shiite parties. Having failed at a regional level, Turkey then tries to reach the headquarter of the power, and to resolve in Baggdad its own issues of self-identity : "Kurds OR us, no place in the world for both people".
Then, a secret meeting (not so secret now, well) happened last week to discuss the drafting of the Iraqi constitution. Naturally, the only point about which really Ankara worries is the federation and the borders of the federated areas, and the return of Kirkuk or not in the Kurdish area. For that reason, representatives of the various ethnic or religious components of the Iraqi Parliament, "experts" (and among them Kurdish lawyers) were present, but none representative of the great Kurdish parties, the PDK and PUK, had been invited.
Turkey was representated by its Special Representative in Iraq, the ambassador Osman Koruturk and the Director of the Iraqi Department in the ministry of Foreign Office Huseyin Avni Botsali. There were too a Shiite representative Abbas Beyati, a representative of the Turkmen Front
, Riyas Sarkikahya, the undersecretary of the ministry of Justice and expert in Constitutionnal law, Ismet Abd al-Majid, and even representatives of the Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, a man very respectful of the civil laws, as we know.
The meeting was presented like an initiative of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Foundation for the Studies of the Middle East and Balkans. The agenda was Transition towards a constitutional mode in Iraq
.Turkey having the best constitution of the world to solve the ethnic dissensions, there is no doubt that its advices had much to benefit the Iraqi experts.
Without surprise, Turkey has wished a special status for Kirkuk, and that no element that could divide the country would be included in that constitution (the more they speak vaguely the more they could protest later) and that Turkmens, as Kurds and Arabs, would be considered as fundamental group of Iraq.
In the same time, Erdogan is going on usually by warning that the Turkish army has not for the moment the intention, but "could" or "would have the right" to intervene in Iraq, against the PKK which sends 700 guerrillas in Turkey (according to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet
So they try to use Arab, Shiite, turkmene groups, to counter "legally" the Kurds in the south, while they militarily threateng them in north (and as usual, the PKK makes its best for giving good pretexts to a Turkish invasion in the Kurdish Region). So could this strategy be effective?
As usual, concerning the Turkish intervention in the Kurdish mounts of Qandil, much depends on the American refusal to open another front in Iraq.
Concerning the Shiites, no doubt that they are the least interested by a federal State. So they could try as much as possible to draw the Iraqi constitution towards a centralized State. But facing a strong opposition, not only among Kurds, but Christians, or not-Moslem in general, and even from Sunnis, they have not enough majority to impose their point of view.
The Turkmens of Kirkuk, in their majority, are wary of Ankara, which did not protect them during the Anfal. In spite of the local confrontations with the Kurds, they know that they will have to live together, more than with the Turks of Ankara. There is no doubt that the tribal chiefs of Kirkuk, whatever their group, will play a dominating part in the future of Kirkuk, and were preponderant in the formation of the Brotherhood list which gained the majority of the seats of Kirkuk.
Then will this meeting have a real incidence on the drafting of the Iraqi constitution?
Kurds are strong because they are the most unified group (they have had 12 years to resolve their squabbles). A united Arab (Shiites and Sunnis) block is not probable, and Turkmens are not so numerous inIraq. The only way to weaken Kurds in Baghdad is to prevent that the Iraqi constitution ratifies the Kurdish power and its right on Kirkuk.
For the moment, the Kurdish leaders did not react to this meeting. Perhaps they consider that it has any importance, for the true negotiation is based on the impossibility for Southern Shiites to control all Iraq (and Sistanî's statement on the "Islamic" of Iraqi State is not a coincidence). So Shiites could claim also to have a federal Shiite Region, imitating the Kurdish Region.
Then we can bet that Kirkuk, for the Shiites as for the sunnis, will be more that a point of negotiation by which they could ask a counterpart from the Kurds, than a Turkish asset.