_TurkishPress.com_ reports that members of the Iraqi Turkmen Front will be trained by Egypt as part of the new Iraqi Army instead of Turkey.
Turkmen and Arabs have grown closer in the wake of the Kurds’ recent attempts to establish an ethnic-based federation in Iraq. The two ethnic groups have assumed a common stance, with both arguing that Kirkuk is an Iraqi city after the Kurdish groups revealed their ambition to include the oil-rich city within their territories.
The Turkmen are waiting for the support of the Arab world. Last week Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) head Faruk Abdullah held a series of meetings with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmet Mahir. Sources say that Musa and Mahir’s stances were a relief to the ITF, and can be summarized as follows:
“Iraq’s territorial integrity will be protected. We can’t allow one group to dominate another. Kirkuk is an Iraqi city. It can’t be left to the domination of one ethnic group. Egypt will do its utmost to protect both Iraq’s territorial integrity and the rights of every ethnic group in the country.”
While the Turks might seem an obvious choice to train the Turkmen, thanks to their historic ties to the Turkmen, ITF spokesman Ahmed Muratli says that “Turkey is now out of the picture. The U.S. signed training agreements with Jordan and Egypt, not Turkey.” Kurdish leaders Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani have also expressed opposition to the Turks providing training, despite (or perhaps because of) its proximity and its NATO ties.
A Turkmen-Arab alliance should be expected as the third largest ethnic group in Iraq finds common cause with the largest (Arabs) in the wake of Kurdish attempts to add Kirkuk to their possessions in the post-Saddam Iraq. Both Arabs and Turkmen have argued that Kirkuk is an Iraqi city and not Kurdish. Violence in that city last week left at least two people dead and more injured when _peshmergas_ fired into a demonstration of “Arabs and Turkmen protesting the Kurds’ proposed plans for Iraqi federalism.”:http://b2i2.thestonecutters.net/archives/000637.php