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Turkmeneli Newspaper
in Arabic
اقرأ جريدة تركمان أيلي باللغة العربية
Iraqi Turkmen Journal
مجلة تركمان العراق
Kerkuk Newspaper
in Arabic
اقرأ جريدة كركوك باللغة العربية

The History is Constructed on the Facts and the Realities
Kerkuk City
Arabic Version

The word Kerkuk1 has no any implications in Turkmen, Arabic, Persian or Kurdish languages. The mostly similar words to Kerkuk are Kerkluk and kurkluk in Turkmen, which mean partridge and the beauty, consequently. Kerkluk means in Turkmen also the place which worth to be seen. Therefore, Kerkuk word can be originated from the changes of these words.2

The cuneiform writings on the signboards, which were founded coincidentally on the foot of Kerkuk Citadel in 1927, demonstrated that the city Erebga of Babylonian was the present Kerkuk City.3 Other sources considered Erbega as a part of bigger city Arrapha, which was the name of Kerkuk City during the Assyrian prominence.4 At that time, the city was considered the temple of thunderbolt and rain gods “Edd”. Saint Polus Beijcan5 mentioned that Kerkuk City was called Kora Bajermy in the Assyrian era.

It is stated on fairly authoritative grounds to be Qalat d Slukid – the castle of Seleucids, a Chaldaeo-Syriac name dating from about the time of Christ. 6 The name of city appeared as Beth Garma in Syriac chronicles. It is thought to be the Garmakan region of the Sassanian era.

The city is written under the name Kunkun in the Romans map. Kerkura used by Bathlimous too. At the start of the first millennium Kerkuk city was called Kergini, which remained until the 7th century.7 The name Kerkuk started to be used for the first time by the Turkmen state Kara Koyunlu (1375 – 1468). The two names Kergini and Kerkuk were used at the same time until the city remained to be mentioned only by the name Kerkuk toward the ends of first millennium.

The history of Kerkuk City is returned back to the third millennium BC. In 1948, the Copper tools and calf statue, which were founded during the archaeological evacuations in the New Kerkuk or Arafa neighborhood, dated the history of Kerkuk City back to the 26th century at the Sumerian era. The Assyrian king Nasirbal II built the Kerkuk Citadel between 884 and 858 BC as a military defense line. The king Sluks built a strong rampart with 72 towers around the citadel, two entries and 72 streets.

Kerkuk City is located near the foot of the Zagros Mountains and at the lower boundary of the northern region of Iraq.4 The city was built over a hill on a river called Hasa Su. It is the central district of the Kerkuk governorate. Salahaddin governorate is in the west, Diale governorate in the south. In the east and north of the governorate located Suleymaniyya and Mosul governorates, consequently. Kerkuk is a trade and export center for the surrounding area's agricultural products, sheep, wool, cheese8 and cattle. Textiles are manufactured there. After the discovery of the oil in 1927 it became a major center of the Iraq's petroleum.

According to D. McDowell; for both Arabs and Kurds the value of Kerkuk city had been greatly enhanced by the nationalization of the oil industry. At the beginning of 1974 oil revenue was expected to be ten times higher than in 1972. A huge resource was now at stake. Kerkuk accounted for 70 per cent of the state’s total oil output and Mulla Mustafa felt bound to claim both the town itself and a proportion of its oil revenue.9 Until before the Economic Embargo in 1990, Kerkuk remain producing 70 per cent of the Iraqi oil output10 and 2.2% of world oil11 were produced in Kerkuk city. The oil of Kerkuk city is well known with its good quality and shallowness of the wells, the petrol layers lay 840-1260 meter under the surface of the earth.8 The underground of the city contains a substantial amount of natural gas,12 which is unfortunately wasted by burning, and sulphur,13 which is exploited since the seventies. A huge petrol refinery13, 14 is present at the north of the city.

The Encyclopedia Britannica in its old versions,4 until few years ago mentioned that the most of Kerkuk City population is of Turkmen stock, while in the last internet version15 of the same Encyclopedia the expression has been changed to “The city's population is of mixed Turkmen, Arab and Kurdish stock”. Here we see that the Turkmen is mentioned before the other nationalities, which means that the Turkmen still forms the majority. The new comment of the Internet version of the Encyclopedia Britannica may explain the degree of Arabization and Kurdization, which Kerkuk city has faced in the second half of the last century.

Unfortunately, most of the Encyclopedias present unreliable16 official government statistics over the ethnic structure and population distribution in Iraq as a real data.17, 18, 19, 20. This contradicts clearly with the reports of the writers who personally dealt with the region.

W. R. Hay mentioned21 that Kerkuk City is the place where Turkmen are the majority.

F. Hussein mentioned in his book “Mosul Problem” that the Turkmen was publishing the only newspaper in Kerkuk in the early 20th century.22

According to E. Y. Odisho; “the largest Turkmen population concentration is in the city of Kirkuk whose linguistics, cultural and ethnic identity is distinctly coloured by their presence”. 23

M. Farouk affirmed, when he described Kerkuk Massacre July 1959; “The original population of Kerkuk City were Turkmen and the Kurds were more recent incomers. The Turkmen had always dominated the socio-economic and political life of the Kerkuk city”. 24

Kerkuk City has encountered three emigration waves in the latter century, two of them were massive:

Firstly, the Kurdish emigration, which can be divided into 3 stages:

  1. Early stage (Until 1910s), which was gradual and due to the economical and the social factors.
  2. Intermediate stage (1920 – 1960), which was heavier and due to the social, economical and the political factors.
  3. Late stage. (1960 - until now), which is the heaviest and mainly due to the political factors.
Secondly, the forcedly Arabic emigration, which can be divided into 2 stages:
  1. Monarchical stage (1920 – 1958), which was gradual and mainly due to the political factors.
  2. Republican stage (1958 – until now), which is very intensive and purely due to the political factors.

Thirdly, Assyrian emigration:

    The Christians of Kerkuk City can be divided in to two groups. The first group called the Christians of Kerkuk Citadel who are the original natives of the city. They are from the Turkmen origin. They bid and celebrate the religious activities in Turkmen from the holly book Medrash. They have separate church, which was called Red Church in the eastern side of the Kerkuk City. Secondly, the Petroleum Company, which was completely administrated by English, brought Christian workers from the other governorates. They were mainly settled in the neighborhoods around the Company: New Kerkuk, Almaz and Gavur Bagi.

The population of Kerkuk City was almost all Turkmen until not too past25 except few sporadic Kurdish families scattered mainly in the peripheral quarters of the city. The second stage of Kurdish emigration to the Kerkuk City started with the industrialization of the Kerkuk oil by the English companies in the 1920s. D. McDowall pointed out that the Turkmen were originally predominant element of the Kerkuk city, the Kurds were settled increasingly in the city during the 1930s and 1940s. 26 In this stage established a large number of Kurds in the Imam Kasim Neighborhood at the eastern north of the city.27 The second threshold of the Kurdish emigration waves, in this stage, took place in the fifties of the 19th century. At this time almost all the legal and political machinery of Kerkuk city were hold by the Kurds. 28 In this time started to appear the first houses of Al-Shorje quarter in the eastern south of Kerkuk city. During this period, the fields of oil consumption increased, and lead to the huge economical growth of the city, which farther encouraged the Kurdish emigration. The third stage of Kurdish emigration, which started with the Kurdish uprising in the north of Iraq, was the heaviest. The Kurdish neighborhood Rahim Ava appeared in the north of the city. Nowadays, the Kurds are the majority in only two Kerkuk neighborhoods Imam Kasim and Rahim Ava, while al-Shorje neighborhood is mainly Kurdish region. Few sporadic families established in some other neighborhoods of the city. Mentioning Kerkuk city inside the boundaries of the imaginary Kurdistan has really no any logic historical or geographical explanations.

The Arabization policies of Kerkuk City began as early as in the 1930s, when the cabinet of Yasin Al-Hashimi made 2 racist decisions:

1. The huge al-Hawije project to cultivate the vast plain at the west of Kerkuk City to settle the Arab tribes of Al-Ubeyd and Al-Jubur.
2. Termination of study in Turkmen in the schools at the Turkmen regions as; Kerkuk and Kifri.27

The second stage of Arabization policy of Kerkuk city set up with the establishment of the Republic. Appointment of Turkmen dropped off and the Turkmen were discharged from the important positions in the governmental offices. In the dictatorial Bath period, the assimilation and forcedly deportation of Turkmen from kerkuk City started. The Turkmen were not allowed to buy immovable proprieties in the governorate.

The economic importance of the city and the racist dictatorial identity30 of the Iraqi regimes have brought serious disasters for the Turkmen population in Iraq, especially in Kerkuk City. After 1970s, Arabs have enjoyed special incentives and rights, which encouraged thousands of families to obey the order of Bath Party and settle in the historically Turkmen area Kerkuk. In the later half of the 1970s, the names of tens villages and districts in Kerkuk governorate were officially given Arabic names. Large numbers of Turkmen families were given deportation notification from kerkuk at the end of November 1993. 31

In one of the many attempts to divide the Turkmen concentrations of the Kerkuk governorate, the present regime had changed the administrative boundaries in January 1976. Two large administrative Turkmen districts were separated from this governorate. 31

The special reporter of the Human Rights commission of the United Nations reported that 25,000 Turkmen Shiite families were apparently relocated to other places. He continues in his report: although the Turkmen population constitutes the third largest ethnic community in Iraq with a historical presence dating back to one thousand years principally in the north-central plains of the country, the group still faces the rudimentary problem of official recognition of its identity in terms.

Being Kerkuk City located to the south of 36th parallel, it was left out of the international protection and remained under the hostilities of the Iraqi regime.


  1. Kerkuk City is considered the capital of Turkmen inhabited region. Turkmeneli and the Iraqi Turkmenistan are the two new synonym terms, which started to be mentioned mainly in the Iraqi Turkmen publications and literatures during the last few decades. They refer to the region from Telefer district in Mosul governorate to the Bedre district in al-Kut governorate. This area is mainly inhabited by the Turkmen.
  2. Ziyad Akkoyunlu, “Kerkuk we al-Aklat al-Hassa bil al-Munasabat”, – Kerkuk and the dinners of festivals, Copyrights By "" 2001.
  3. Nusret Merdan, “Ightiyal Kalat Kerkuk” - Assassination of Kerkuk Citadel - “Karda§lik Journal”, version 6, year 2, Published by Kerkuk Foundation, Istanbul 2000, p. 43.
  4. “Encyclopedia Britannica” 1989, volume 6, p. 890.
  5. Saint Polus Beijcan, “The News of Martyrs and Saints”, version 2, Leipzig library 1891.
  6. William R. Hay, “Two Years in Kurdistan 1918 – 1920”, (William Clowes and Sons, Limited, London and Beccles 1921), p. 94.
  7. Cemaleddin Baban, “Usul Esma al-mudun ve al-mawaki al-Iraqiyya” - The manners by which the Iraqi cities and other places were named - Baghdad 1989, p. 246.
  8. “The Great Oosthoek Encyclopedia and Dictionary” 1978, Dutch version, volume 11, p. 264 - 265.
  9. David McDowall, “A Modern History of the Kurds”, I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd Publishers 1996, London & New York, p. 335.
  10. “Great Larousse Encyclopedia”, Dutch version, volume 13, p. 3.
  11. Ziyad Köpürlü, “Turkish Presence in Iraq”, By Ornek Limited Company, Ankara 1996, p.22.
  12. “Encyclopedia Britannica” 1992, volume 6, p. 377.
  13. “Great Soviet Encyclopedia” 1976, English version, volume 12, p. 510.
  14. “Great Winklier Prins Encyclopedia” 1984, Dutch version, volume 13, p. 374.
  15. “Encyclopedia Britannica”, Internet version, title Kirkuk, 1999 - 2000 Britannica. com Inc.
  16. “Collier’s Encyclopedia” 1988, volume 13, p. 241.
  17. “Meyer Encyclopedia” 1975, volume 6, p. 890.
  18. “The Great Brock Haus Encyclopedia” 1976, German version, volume 5, p. 593.
  19. “Encyclopedia Universalis” 1989, France version, volume 12, p. 580.
  20. “Great Larousse Encyclopedia” 1962, France version, volume 6, p. 220.
  21. William R. Hay, “Two Years in Kurdistan 1918 – 1920”, p. 106-107.
  22. Fazil Hussein, “Mushkilat al-Mosul” - The Mosul Problem - 1967, p. 92.
  23. Edward Y. Odisho, “City of Kerkuk: No historical authenticity without multiethnicity”. North eastern Illinois University, Chicago, IL U.S.A.
  24. Marion Farouk, "Iraq since 1958 – From Revolution to dictatorship", IB Tauris &co. Ltd, London 2001, p. 70 – 72.
  25. Hanna Batatu, “The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq” , Princeton University Press, New Jersey 1978, p. 914.
  26. David McDowall, “A Modern History of the Kurds”, p. 305.
  27. Aziz Samanci, “Al-tarikh al-siyasi li Turkman al-Iraq” - The Political History of Iraqi Turkmen - El-Saki Print House, First edition, Beirut 1999, p. 87.
  28. Hanna Batatu, “The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq” , p. 913. Aziz Samanci, “Al-tarikh al-siyasi li Turkman al-Iraq” - The Political History of Iraqi Turkmen - p. 112.
  29. US Department of State, “Iraq, Country Report on Human rights Practise for 1998”. Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and labor, February 26, 1999.
  30. Max van der Stoel, Special Reporter of the Commission Human Rights, “Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Iraq” , E/CN.4/1994/58, p. 49.

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Editor and Web Master: Sheth Jerjis (Pashalar)

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