The Turkmen of Iraq

Note: several alternative spellings are recognised by English dictionaries ...

Turkmen(plural Turkmen, Turkmens)
Turkoman(plural Turkomans)
Turcoman(plural Turcomans)


The Turkomans of Iraq originally came from central Asia, in a migration that took place over several hundred years, beginning in the 7th century AD. Today, slightly more than two million Turkomans are believed to live in Iraq (mainly in the area shaded blue on the map below). They are Turkish speaking and almost all are Muslims, though there are also about 30,000 Christians.

Source: Turkmen People Party

Their geographical distribution in Iraq is as follows:

  • Province of Mosul: Telafer, Kadziyeh, Reshidiyeh, Eski Musul, Eski kelek, Muhallebyeh and Shebek. EstimatedTurkomanpopulation is 450,000.

  • Province of Erbil: Erbil, Eski Kelek, Altinkopru, Karakus. EstimatedTurkomanpopulation is 215,000.

  • Province of Kirkuk: Kerkuk, Tazehurmatu, Dibis, Leylan, Terkelan, Kadir Kerem and Da'kuk (Tavuk). EstimatedTurkomanpopulation is 700,000.

  • Province of Salahaddin: Tuzhurmato, Kifri, Bastamli, Suleyman Beg, Karatepe, Amirli, Yenice, Bablan and Karahasan. EstimatedTurkomanpopulation is 300,000.

  • Province of Diyala: Hanekin, Mendeli, Kizlarbat (Saadiyeh), Shahraban (Meqdadiah), Jelawla (Karahan), Kazaniah and Bedre. EstimatedTurkomanpopulation is 220,000.

  • City of Baghdad:Turkomanpopulation is 300,000.[Source: Tukmen People Party]

More information:Wikipedia


The Turkomans complain that the Iraqi government does not recognise them as a ethnic minority or allow their language to be used in public. The use of Turkish in schools, government offices and the media was previously allowed under the 1925 constitution, but restrictions began to be imposed from 1972 onwards.

More recently, the creation of a "safe haven" for the Kurds in northern Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War resulted in additional problems for the Turkomans. It split them into two groups: those dominated by the Kurds and those dominated by the Baghdad regime.

The Turkomans' political importance stems mainly from their affinity with Turkey, which has difficulties with its own Kurdish minority. Turkish support for an American attack on Baghdad would probably be conditional on a protected position for the Iraqi Turkomans under a post-Saddam government.

The main Turkoman political organisations are:

  • Turkmen People Party (TPP)

  • Iraqi National Turkman Party (INTP)

  • Turkemenli Party

  • Turkmen Islamic Union