Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Arshad Alsalihi's interview on Alsharqiya

During a meeting with Alsarqiya, Arshad Alsalihi said: We have patriotic belonging as well as sympathy with all Turkish speaking countries
This article was published in TURKMEN ASPECT


imited print programme that is broadcasted by Alsharqiya news hosted the head of Turkmen Front and Deputy of Kirkuk governorate, Arshad Alsalihi, who answered many questions concerning the current situation in the region and Turkmens specifically.
The following is some of Alsalihi's says:
-We were kept away from the ruling council because we objected Federalism
-Our demand of Iraqi unity cost us political loss
-Our demand to convert Talaafar and Tuz Khurmatu to governorate did not mean formation of ethnic governorate
-The celebration method to receive Davutoğlu in Kirkuk was due to neglect of Turkmens
-We have patriotic belongings and this does not prevent us from having sympathy towards the Turkish speaking countries
-I do not consider the meeting of  Davutoğlu with Barazani and the Kurdish governor surrendering to Kurds as Turkey looks the same at all Iraqi components
-We still have disputes with Kurdish sides about many subjects; the solution is in sitting all Turkmen, Kurdish and Arabic components on one table supervised by the United Nations.
-We are open to all with no discrimination
-Kurdish sides control all institutions in Kirkuk and we have only one general director
-Our relations with the Prime Minister is good despite the coldness nowadays
-Mistakes that prevented to perform the elections in Kirkuk were not solved but complicated
-Ministries still occupy the lands belonging to Turkmen component
-We do not feel safe with the military existence in Turkmen regions like this coordination

The video of the meeting is in the link below

Monday, 13 August 2012

Irak: sept chiites tués par des hommes armés dans une attaque religieuse

Irak: sept chiites tués par des hommes armés dans une attaque religieuse

Créé le 11-08-2012 à 21h10 - Mis à jour à 22h20

Nouvel Observateur
BAGDAD (Sipa) — Des hommes armés à moto ont tué sept personnes dans une attaque religieuse visant les chiites dans le nord de l'Irak, a-t-on appris auprès des autorités locales.
Le maire de Tuz Khormato Shalal Abdoul a précisé que l'attaque s'était produite à la sortie du village chiite turkmène d'Amerili, proche de sa ville située à 210km au nord de Bagdad. Les assaillants ont exécuté les musulmans chiites après les avoir séparé des sunnites, qu'ils ont laissé partir. Un responsable de la policede Tuz Khormato, le capitaine Mazin Abdullah a confirmé l'attaque.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

A unified Syria without Assad is what Turkmen are after

A unified Syria without Assad is what Turkmen are after

Syrian Turkmen, who stand in support of the territorial integrity of Syria,
Are  concerned that the breakup of the country or the survival of the
Bashar al-Assad regime may leave them exposed to serious threats.
“Syrian Turkmen may come into serious difficulties in either case,”
Tarık Sulo  Cevizci, deputy chairman of the Syria Democratic Turkmen
 Movement, has said.

The representatives of Syrian Turkmen were received for the first
time at the  ministerial level in Turkey on Tuesday, when Foreign
Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu  met with members of the Syria
Democratic Turkmen Movement.

Should the present regime remain in power in Syria, Turkmen
would be targeted  on two counts by the regime. Turkmen are
at the forefront of the resistance,  given the considerable
Turkmen population in places such as Aleppo, Homs  and
 Damascus, where severe clashes have taken place.
And with Turkey’s  anti-Assad stance, Turkmen are viewed
 as unreliable by those in power, whose  anger may focus
 on Turkmen. “Turkmen are seen as an extension of Turkey,
 and they would be made to pay the price,” Cevizci told
Sunday’s Zaman.

A scenario in which Syria would be broken up following the
 fall of the Assad regime  is not at all favored by Turkmen,
 as the population is not so densely concentrated as
 to have an absolute majority in any one part of the country
 but is rather spread
 throughout Syria. In the breakup scenario, three new states
may come into being : a Kurdistan region along the
Turkish-Syrian border, referred to by Kurds as  Western Kurdistan;
a Nusayri state, for which Latakia would be the center, along
 the Mediterranean coast of Syria; and a Sunni Muslim state
in the remaining part  of the country. The first two states
potentially represent a major threat to Turkmen communities.

Should the Kurds move to set up a state in the north of the
country, Turkmen  living in that region would feel themselves
under threat. “The project of Western  Kurdistan has caused
 much anxiety to Turkmen,” Cevizci noted, adding that at
most only 50 percent of the population along Syria’s border
 region with Turkey  is of Kurdish origin, with Turkmen making
 up 30 percent and Arabs estimated  to have a share of 20
 percent of the population of the region, while the area
 from Aleppo to Rakkaq to the Turkish border is a
Turkmen basin. “There are nearly 290 Turkmen villages in
 this region,” Cevizci remarked.

Ziyad Hasan, spokesperson of the Syria Democratic
Turkmen Movement, confirmed the anxiety of Syrian Turkmen
 on the Turkish-Syrian border regarding  the Western Kurdistan
 project of the Kurdish Democratic Union (PYD) -- an
offshoot of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
 Hasan stated to  Sunday’s Zaman, “Turkmen in the region are
 afraid of having to migrate,  being massacred or assimilated
[should the project be realized].” Cevizci’s  outlook is equally
gloomy. “Should a Kurdish state be established in this part
 of Syria, it would be the beginning of the end for Turkmen.”

The theoretical Nusayri state along the Mediterranean coast
 of Syria poses  similar threats to Turkmen. In the region
 surrounding Latakia, the third most concentrated area of
Turkmen habitation after Aleppo and Homs, Turkmen
areas have been under bombardment in the recent past,
together with  Turkmen areas of Hamah. “The Syrian regime,
 in an effort to reserve the  area for Nusayris as part of a
worst-case scenario, has been trying to force  Turkmen out
 of the area,” Hasan maintained. In the area stretching from
 the north of Lebanon to Turkey’s Hatay province, there are
 nearly a hundred  Turkmen villages, and the region has a
Turkmen population of 150,000 to  200,000.

The total population of Turkmen in Syria is estimated to
be around 3 to 3.5  million, of whom around 1 to 1.5 million
are able to speak Turkish. The nearly  2 million Turkmen
remaining, though aware of their Turkish origin, do not speak
 Turkish any longer but Arabic. “It’s because after the Ottoman
 Empire lost Syria,  Turkmen here were not allowed to conduct
 any cultural activities in Turkish, let alone learn their language
 at school,” Hasan noted.

In fighting against the Assad regime, Turkmen want to have
 their say on the future of Syria. But as Turkmen were not
organized when the Syrian National Council (SNC) was founded,
 they are not currently represented in that body and consider
 the council flawed due to the resistance of Arab insurgents to the
inclusion of Turkmen. On the other hand, Turkmen were
 represented in a  committee of 21 representatives that met
last week in Egypt to discuss the  way forward for Syria.
“So Turkmen are now in an equivalent position with  other
 insurgent groups,” Cevizci commented. Hasan expressed hope
 that the council would soon move to include Turkmen.

About three months ago, the Turkmen community in Syria,
 organized under  the Syria Democratic Turkmen Movement,
 established several armed Turkmen  brigades, putting the
community in a better position to fight against the Assad
 regime and to defend the areas they live in.

Humanitarian aid to be distributed by opposition
In the meeting on Tuesday with Turkish Foreign Minister
 Ahmet Davutoğlu,  members of the Syria Democratic
 Turkmen Movement suggested that humanitarian aid
to Syria be distributed through organizations such as
 theirs. “The proposal has been positively received by
 Turkish officials,”  said Hasan, spokesperson of the movement.
 Insurgent organizations, after receiving humanitarian aid at
customs points between Syria and Turkey, would then be
responsible for distributing it among those in need.

“In this way, it may be possible to prevent the probable mass
 migration from Aleppo to Turkey,” Cevizci remarked. Seeking
 refuge from the clashes,  250,000 people, about 100,000
 of them Turkmen, have already left Aleppo for surrounding
 villages, with Aleppo, a city of more than 3 million residents,
experiencing major shortages of staple products such as
 food, baby food, gasoline and diesel fuel, as well as medicine.
 Diesel fuel is 15 to 20 times  more expensive than it used
 to be, and there are long queues for bread in the city.
 “When their stock of food runs out, they will turn to Turkey,”
 Cevizci  noted, communicating the urgency of providing
 humanitarian aid to the Syrian people.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Tigris-Euphrates levels increase, spur new irrigation techniques

Tigris-Euphrates levels increase, spur new irrigation techniques

A farmer works in Baghdad. [Mahmoud al-Mulhim/Mawtani]
A farmer works in Baghdad. [Mahmoud al-Mulhim/Mawtani]

As Iraq reports increased water levels in the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers this year, water management officials and agricultural specialists are calling for the adoption of modern irrigation techniques to make the most of the resources.
"This year, we have seen a rise in the water reservoirs of dams due to rising water levels in the upper stretches of the Tigris and Euphrates," said Awn Thiab, director general of the Ministry of Water Resources' National Centre for Water Resource Management.
"For this reason, we have increased the daily releases of water [from the dams] according to a plan adopted by the ministry that includes the release of 400-600 cubic metres [of water] per second", he said.
Thiab told Mawtani that his ministry is working with the Ministry of Agriculture to help Iraq's farming industry benefit from the increased water levels.
"Rising water levels should not mean that we continue to use traditional systems for water delivery to agricultural fields, which usually involve excessive wastage," he said.
Thiab recommended a policy to conserve irrigation water and referenced some experiments that successfully increased conservation.
He pointed to the closed irrigation technique, which is currently employed in Najaf province and spanning some 3,500 dunams. Wasit and Diwaniya provinces are also preparing to adopt this technique and use it on larger areas, he added.
In addition, the Ministry of Water Resources is also considering using "lined rivers" (channels lined with various materials to prevent water from seeping out) to transfer water to agricultural farms, where the use of advanced irrigation methods are preferred, Thiab said.
He told Mawtani that Iraq must also learn from other countries' experiments in this field.
"There are experiments in other countries we can adopt and benefit from, especially in the field of agriculture, which at its core depends on water," he said, adding that modern techniques to deliver water will prevent losses incurred when employing traditional methods.
"There are projects that have been executed and others that are still in the pipeline, including projects for lining irrigation canals and the closed irrigation project adopted by the ministry, which proved widely successful in conserving water and raising the volume of production," Thiab said.
Meanwhile, Ali Hashim, the ministry's director general of projects, told Mawtani, "The water incoming from the Tigris and Euphrates reached 75% of its original average, which is considered good, and better than the past four years."
"The ministry's plan for this year seeks to provide water for three million agricultural dunams so various crops can be planted," Hashim said, adding that the plan aims to deliver water to all the provinces.
The plan also involves "using modern irrigation methods, removing the islands that accumulate in the middle of the riverbed and using accurate standards to gauge the amount of water entering into each province," he told Mawtani.
In turn, agriculture ministry specialist Riyad al-Azzawi said various Iraqi ministries are cooperating "to maintain the water balance and [preserve] what the country needs for its various purposes, the most prominent of which is agriculture".
"There are important and precise annual plans for storing water inside dams, and the general plan includes a change in traditional irrigation systems," al-Azzawi confirmed.
"This year will witness the planting of huge areas of shilib rice, which requires huge amounts of water," he said.
Thus, officials are working to gain the greatest crop yield for the least amount of resources.
A number of provinces "completed their projects to renew and line [irrigation] canals to ensure […] using the least amount of water to obtain the largest amount of crops," he sai

Monday, 6 August 2012

Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq after the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops

Paper: Managing Arab-Kurd Tensions in Northern Iraq after the Withdrawal of U.S. Troops


To help U.S. policymakers prepare for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in late 2011, this paper presents options for mitigating the risks of Arab-Kurd conflict and suggests mechanisms through which U.S. government entities — both civilian and military — could work to alleviate tensions in northern Iraq. The authors discuss the feasibility of a range of confidence-building measures that could help Arabs and Kurds build trust and avoid conflicts that might derail peaceful efforts to resolve Iraq’s fundamental political challenges.
They conclude that such efforts are unlikely to contain Arab-Kurd violence over the long-term absent a national-level agreement regarding federalism, the legal and political status of disputed territories, and the management of oil and gas resources.
However, by managing local disputes, confidence-building measures may be able to prevent violence long enough for Iraq’s politicians to resolve these broader issues.

To download or read the paper online please see:

Sunday, 5 August 2012

World War Cemeteries in Al Kut, Iraq

British World War Cemetery in Decay

Looking at the spray paint on the cross and the rusting scooter seat in the weeds, it is hard to argue with the local landowner who laments, "Iraq is not like Egypt -- here, nobody gives a damn about our heritage." 

In this town in south Iraq, home to two cemeteries -- one for British and Indian soldiers, the other for Turkish veterans -- who died in World War I, much of the remnants of bygone eras and rulers have been left crumbling. "When I was a boy, I often went to play in the cemetery," recalls Mithaq Jabbar Abdullah, now 34. "There were roses, it was like a garden." 

"But starting from the embargo against Iraq in the 1990s, everything began to go wrong," says Abdullah, a private generator operator who makes a living from Iraq's chronic electricity shortfall. "And today," he says, before his voice trails off with a sigh. The cemetery is accessed from one of Kut's main roads, but one must step over countless iron bars and shards of glass and metal. 

Nearby, Abdullah's electricity generator roars, filling in the gaps between Kut's frequent power cuts, providing a soundtrack that makes quiet commemoration difficult. As relations between Iraq and Britain worsened following Saddam Hussein's invasion of neighbouring Kuwait in 1990, fewer and fewer visitors passed through the site. 

"The state of the cemetery has gone hand-in-hand with the state of relations between Iraq and Britain," says Mussana Hassan Mehdi, a schoolteacher and local historian. "During the time of Iraq's monarchy, it was very well maintained. Then Iraq became a republic (in 1958). ... From then on, it steadily worsened until (the US-led invasion of) 2003." 

"After the fall of Saddam Hussein, the government was virtually non-existent. And today, the local residents use the cemetery as a garbage dump," Mehdi laments. Now, the names of those buried as a result of the 1915-16 Ottoman siege of Kut are no longer visible, covered in dirt, and many headstones are obscured by vegetation. 

After scraping away some of the dried mud, the memorial to one soldier, Corporal Horace Edward Hawkett, becomes visible: He "did his duty (and) is ever in our thoughts." It reads: "Corporal H.E. Hawkett. Oxford & Bucks. Light Infantry. 20th December 1915. Age 23." 

But to find the names of all the 420 British and Indian soldiers who fell while under the command of Major General Charles Townshend, one must search the website of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), which is concerned with around 23,000 similar sites in 150 countries. It offers details of the five-month battle during which the troops had to resort to "eating cats, dogs, donkeys and mules" to survive, according to Mehdi. 

The CWGC blames the security situation in Iraq after Saddam's fall in 2003 -- the country was engulfed in bloodshed and, while violence is dramatically lower than in 2006 and 2007, attacks remain common -- for the cemetery's lapse into disrepair. "The current security situation in Iraq continues to place severe limitations on the work which the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is able to carry out at its cemeteries and memorials there," said Matt Morris, a CWGC spokesman, in an email to AFP. 

Earlier this year, the CWGC signed a contract to clear the cemetery and replace the front wall and fence, and Morris said the organisation "was awaiting details of how that contract has been progressing."

The graves of Turkish Martyrs

The grave for Turkish soldiers who died, however, stands in stark contrast to the British one. That cemetery, which lies just outside Kut, bears the words "Turkish Martyrs -- The Nation Is Grateful" in Turkish at the entrance, on what appears to be a regularly polished metal plate. The memorial grass is neatly clipped and free of weeds, and the Turkish flag flutters in the wind. Ahmed Hashim Anbar and his uncle together receive around $300 a month to care for the cemetery full-time, paid for by the Turkish government. 

"The only visitors we see here are Turks," Anbar says. "Usually these are people from the Turkish embassy, who come for ceremonies. They are very proud of their history. They take care of their heritage." The Iraqi government, meanwhile, has prioritised several other issues ahead of heritage preservation in the years since 2003, when it began grappling with a sectarian war and sought to rebuild the country after 30 years of conflict and international sanctions. 

Evidence of that lies just 500 metres (yards) from the cemetery, close to the Tigris river, at a house built in 1883 by the Ottoman empire, where Major General Townshend set up his headquarters during the siege of Kut. Now, the building lies between a construction site and a grocery store. The rooms are home to bats, one wall has collapsed as a result of a recent earthquake, and garbage has piled up in the courtyard, all from the neighbours, according to the property's owner, Hussein Hassan. 

Beautiful columns with elegant carvings valiantly hold up the first floor of the building, but have visibly eroded. The house has lain empty since the 1980s. "It pains me to see the house in the state it is in," Hassan says. "We do not have the money to renovate it. Only the government has enough funds for the work." But so far, neither the central government in Baghdad, nor the provincial government of Wasit, of which Kut is the capital, have stepped up. 

The Wasit provincial council's culture committee says it has been considering buying the house "to transform it into a museum," according to committee chief Haidar Jassim Mohammed. Hassan is unmoved, however, by those declarations. "The government came -- they took pictures, and they said they would buy it. But so far, nothing has happened." "Iraq is not like Egypt," he says. "Here, nobody gives a damn about our heritage."

Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra) is appealing for further information on the situation regarding the British War Cemetery in Kut and we also welcome information, relating to the conditions at other British World War One graveyards in Iraq. All written, photographic or video contributions can be e-mailed to us:iraq_campaign@yahoo.co.uk  or posted directly onto our Facebook group.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Türkmenler, Davutoğlu’nun Kerkük ziyaretiyle moral buldu

Irak Türkmen Cephesi Türkiye Temsilcisi Hicran Kazancı:”Davutoğlu’nun tarihi ziyareti Irak’taki siyasi süreçte Türkmenlerin ana aktör olduğunun, diğer Arap ve Kürt siyasi  gruplardan farkı olmadığının göstergesidir.”

ANKARA (AA) – 02.08.2012 – Erkan Avcı

Irak Türkmen Cephesi (ITC) Türkiye Temsilcisi Hicran Kazancı, 75 yıl sonra Kerkük’e Türkiye’den dışişleri bakanı düzeyinde bir ziyaret yapılmasının önemine işaret ederek, Davutoğlu’nun ziyaretinin Türkmenler için büyük moral kaynağı olduğunu ifade etti. Kazancı, ”Davutoğlu’nun tarihi ziyareti Irak’taki  siyasi süreçte Türkmenlerin ana aktör olduğunun, diğer Arap ve Kürt siyasi gruplardan hiçbir farkının olmadığının göstergesidir” dedi.

ITC Türkiye Temsilcisi Hicran Kazancı, AA muhabirinin, Davutoğlu’nun tarihi Kerkük ziyaretine 
ilişkin sorularını yanıtladı.
Türkiye’den üst düzey bir yetkilinin Kerkük’ü ziyaret etmesinin geçmişte Türkmenler için daima büyük  bir moral kaynağı olduğunu belirten Kazancı, ziyaretin Ahmet Davutoğlu tarafından gerçekleştirilmesinin  ise olaya daha da büyük anlam kazandırdığını söyledi.
Türkiye’nin 2003′ten sonra bölgeye yönelik dış politikasında Türkmenlerin önemli unsunlar arasında  değerlendirildiğini kaydeden Kazancı, şunları söyledi:
”Defalarca Türk yetkililer ‘Irak’taki tüm kesimler bizim kardeşimizdir ama Türkmenler soydaşımızdır.

Türkmenler oradaki kesimlerlerle Türkiye arasında bir köprüdür’ dedi. Bugün de bu ziyaret, Türkiye’nin
oradaki Türkmenlerin arkasında durduğunun göstergesidir. Irak’taki siyasi süreçte Türkmenlerin ana aktör olduğunun, diğer Arap ve Kürt siyasi gruplarla hiçbir farkı olmadığının, aynı safta olduğunun bir göstergesidir.”

Kazancı, Davutoğlu’nun mezarını ziyaret ettiği merhum Türkmen lideri Necdet Koçak’ın, Osmanlı döneminde şehit olan subayların mezarının bulunduğu Kerkük Kalesi’nin ve valilik makamının Türkmenler için sembol öneme sahip olduğunu vurguladı.

“Uzun yıllardan beri Kürtlerle iç içe yaşıyoruz”

Kerkük’te Türkmenlerin diğer topluluklarla barış içinde yaşadığını anlatan Kazancı, “Tarihi konjonktüre  baktığımız zaman o bölgede biz Türkmenlerin uzun yıllardan beri Kürtlerle iç içe yaşadığını görürsünüz. 

Kerkük’te Araplar’da var. Irak Türkmen Cephesi siyasi oluşum olarak bütün gruplarla görüşüyor” diye konuştu.

ITC Türkiye Temsilcisi Kazancı, Irak Türkmenlerinin 2003′teki ABD işgali ve Irak’ın yeniden yapılanmasından sonra önemli haklar elde ettiklerini ancak bu hakların yeterli olmadığını ifade etti.

Hicran şunları kaydetti:
“Biz Irak’ta Arap ve Kürtlerden sonra üçüncü ana unsuruz. Bizim için  de üç güç merkezi önemlidir;
 Bağdat, Erbil ve Ankara. Bağdat’ta merkezi hükümette, ülkedeki nüfus oranımıza göre üçüncü unsure
 olarak elde ettiğimiz hakların verilmesini istiyoruz. Ancak bu hakları yeterince elde etmediğimizi
görüyorum. Erbil merkezli hükümete baktığımız zaman ise o bölgede Kürtlerden sonra ikinci ana  unsuruz, dolayısıyla orada da haklarımızı elde etmemiz gerekir. Bu sorunlar en iyi, müzakereler yoluyla giderilebilir.”

“Türkiye bölgesine istikrar yayan bir ülke”

Türkiye’nin 2003′ten sonra Irak’taki tüm kesimlerle ilişki kurma çabası içerisine girdiğini ve bunda  oldukça başarı olduğunu vurgulayan Kazancı, Ankara’nın sadece Kürtlerle değil Bağdat’taki Sünni ve Şii gruplarla da görüştüğüne dikkati çekti.

Kazancı, ”Son dönemdeki sürece baktığımız zaman Iraklı tüm liderlerin Türkiye’yi ziyaret ettiğini  görüyoruz. Türkiye bin yıldan beri bölgesine istikrar yayan bir ülkedir. ABD müdahalesi öncesinde bu ülkeye Irak’a yapılacak bir müdahalenin çözüm getirmeyeceğini, bunun etnik ve mezhepsel kavga  getireceğini söyledi. Amerikanın müdahalesini önlemeye çalıştı, bunun sonucunun çorap söküğü gibi  Yemen’e kadar dayanacağını anlattı. Bugün baktığımız zaman olayların Türkiye’yi ne kadar haklı çıkardığını görüyoruz” ifadelerini kullandı.

“Suriye’deki Türkmenleri uyardık”

“Suriye’nin kuzeyinde dağınık halde yaklaşık üç milyona yakın bir Türkmen kitlesi bulunuyor” diyen Hicran Kazancı, Suriyeli Türkmenleri ülkede meydana gelen yeni siyasi oluşumun dışında kalmamaları konusunda uyardıklarını söyledi.

Suriye Türkmenleriyle sürekli irtibat halinde olduklarını ifade eden Kazancı, ”Son dönemdeki
olaylardan sonra Türkmenler ilk etapta dağınıktı, muhalefette yer almadılar. Bunların bir araya gelmesinden sonra Ulusal Konsey’e bir Türkmenin girmesi çok önemlidir. Sürecin dışında kalmamaları için kendilerini sürekli uyarıyoruz. Çünkü biz aynı tecrübeyi Irak’ta yaşadık.

Muhalefetin dışında kalmak iktidarın da dışında kalmak anlamına geliyor” diye konuştu.

Yayıncı : Ogün Duru

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Davutoğlu's historic visit to Kirkuk angers Iraqi government

Davutoğlu's historic visit to Kirkuk angers Iraqi government

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu meets Kirkuk Mayor Nejmeddin Karim in Kirkuk city of northern Iraq. (Photo: AA)
2 August 2012 / TODAY'S ZAMAN, ANKARA

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu paid a historic visit to Kirkuk, an oil-rich city in northern Iraq, on Thursday, as the first Turkish foreign minister to visit in 75 years, a move sharply criticized by the Iraqi government.

According to a statement released by the Iraqi Foreign Ministry on Thursday, the Iraqi government was not informed of nor did it approve the Turkish foreign minister's trip.

"All of that was done without the knowledge or approval of the Foreign Ministry and without going through the official and diplomatic channels to organize this visit," a statement on the Iraqi Foreign Ministry's website said.

"It is not in the interest of Turkey or any other party to underestimate national sovereignty or violate the rules of international relations and not comply with the most basic regulations in the relations of states and officials," the Foreign Ministry added.

Davutoğlu is the first Turkish foreign minister to set foot in the city since 1937.
Speaking to reporters at the headquarters of Iraqi Turkmen Front, Davutoğlu pledged that Turkey would use all of its means to maintain the peace in Kirkuk.

"Kirkuk's unity and fraternity is Iraq's unity and fraternity. In Kirkuk, Turkmen, Kurds and Arabs have lived together for centuries and they will live in peace forever. And we will live together in peace with our Iraqi brothers regardless of their Sunni, Shiite, Arab, Kurdish, Turkmen or Christian identities," Davutoğlu told reporters whom he greeted in Turkish, Kurdish and Arabic after a meeting with Kirkuk Governor Najmadin Kareem.

Prior to his speech, Davutoğlu came together with representatives of Turkmen parties and institutions in Kirkuk. Davutoğlu sent unity and solidarity messages to Turkmens, adding that Turkey has not forgotten them.

"This is the most important day of my life. I am visiting Kirkuk, which was always in my dreams. I am happy to be the first Turkish foreign minister to visit Kirkuk in 75 years. Kirkuk will be an eternal city of peace in Iraq where our Turkmen, Kurdish and Arab brothers live together," said Davutoğlu, adding Turkey considers itself equally close to all ethnic and religious groups in Iraq.
The Turkish minister added that Kirkuk will become one of the fastest-growing cities in the world with its vast natural resources, adding that Turkey was ready to extend any support for the development of the city.

Davutoğlu stated that Kirkuk -- with its history and social structure -- reflects the soul of the Middle East.
Davutoğlu had a series of talks in the city, which is also the home of a sizeable population of Turkmens, ethnic kin of the Turks.

Turkish diplomatic sources told the Anatolia news agency that Davutoğlu's visit was long planned but it was kept secret due to security reasons.

Davutoğlu's Kirkuk visit followed his meeting with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Massoud Barzani for talks on Syrian Kurds. Iraqi Kurds have long been at odds with the Iraqi government and relations between Ankara and Baghdad have also been tense, due to what Turkey perceives to be the Iraq's Shiite-led government's attempts to monopolize power at the expense of other groups in the country.

In a development that is likely to further disturb the Iraqi government, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was due to meet with Iyad Allawi, a political rival of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, later on Thursday in Ankara.