Sir-- Re 'Back to Baghdad' (5-11 November, Al-Ahram Weekly ) when Abul-Gheit says of the Iraqis, "They are not Sunnis or Shia or Kurds or Christians", he is right, because this classification of the Iraqi people is an invention of the US neo-cons which mixes ethnicities with religions. This false classification does not mention the Arabs and the Turkmens. The three main ethnic groups which compose the Iraqi people are the Arabs, Kurds and the Turkmens.
The Arabs are either Muslims or Christians, and are the majority. The Kurds are mostly Muslims; they are the second main ethnic group. The Turkmens are Muslims (half Sunnis, half Shia) and are the third main component of the Iraqi people, constituting the second main ethnic group in the north of Iraq. Unfortunately, the Turkmens continue to be underestimated and marginalised by their Arab and Kurdish compatriots.
The fact that Turkmens live in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk (which is their main cultural centre and their capital city) is the main reason they are being marginalised.
It should not be forgotten that up until the 1950s Kirkuk was a Turkmen city. Kurds and Arabs are newcomers in Kirkuk. Arabs settled in Kirkuk under the Arabisation policy of the former regime and Turkmens were evicted from their homes. In 2003 the US military allowed the Kurdish peshmerga to take control of the city and the Kurdish parties of Talabani and Barzani settled over 600,000 Kurds in Kirkuk in order to change the demographics of the city in view of the referendum.
The Turkmen region in Iraq is called Turkmeneli, a diagonal shaped strip of land which stretches from Telafer at the Syrian border to Mendeli and Bedre at the Iranian border. It is like a buffer zone between the Kurds in the north and the Arabs in the south.
Contrary to the Arabs and Kurds, the Turkmens do not have armed militias. They struggle to obtain their rights by peaceful and democratic ways.
Sir-- 'The hidden war ' (5-11 November, Al-Ahram Weekly ) was a great article which shows a deep understanding of the situation in the Middle East. The only way out of this abyss as Ahmed Chalabi said, is the formation of a four-country concordat -- Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran. This group was described by the Muslim historiographer Al-Masoodi as the fourth region. Al-Masoodi divided the world into seven regions and therefore the fourth is the centre of the world. Extremism will be crushed in this regional alliance. The number of Sunnis and Shia are almost equal in this region. It is the place where the most prominent Muslim empires have existed -- the Umayyad, Abbasid, Safawi and Ottoman. Each country in the alliance suffers security problems coming from one or more neighbouring countries.
But the four-country region will complete each other in terms of water, oil and other resources. It will have the most important appeal and a voice of moderation for Sunnis and Shia in the world.
Wherever you turn
Sir-- Re 'The Fogh of war' (5-11 November, Al-Ahram Weekly ), the Afghanistan fiasco will kill off NATO as an out- of-area intervener and the ex-Yugoslav (and not just Kosovo) fiasco will kill it off as an intervener in Europe. Power is not just shifting from the US to BRIC and the SCO but also to the EU.