latest exposé claims to prove that the Iraqi economy can survive, but only if Turkey implements economic reforms.
The Arabic-language news channel of Turkey’s state-run media network says Iraqis, Turks, and Turkmen are leaving their homes in the Kurdistan Region to find work in Turkey. The network cited the figure of 30,000 Iraqis fleeing their homes and moving to Turkey.
But the claims of Turkish media cannot be independently verified. Even if true, the numbers are small and are unlikely to have a major impact on Turkey’s economy.
Analysts note Turkey is heavily dependent on oil, and the Turkish economy could never survive if the global price of crude oil falls. The latest claims are just a smokescreen designed to put pressure on Baghdad to halt oil exports to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.
“This is a common ploy used to pressure Iraq. It’s a war of lies,” says Mustafa Karimi, president of the Iraq-Turkistan Institute.
Both countries share borders and, unlike Turkey, Iraq does not enjoy preferential access to exporting its oil and gas to the world. The Gulf States and Russia are the most important importers of Iraqi oil and gas.
The decline in global energy prices over the past year has hurt Turkey’s economy. But despite the decline in the price of oil, Turkey’s economy has continued to grow, reaching 7.9% in the third quarter of last year.
That growth continues to attract immigrants. The Kurds, who are the ethnic group that now resides in Iraq’s disputed territories, have taken refuge in Turkey. According to Reuters, they now make up roughly 10% of Turkey’s population of 82 million people.
“Everyone in Turkey thinks everyone in Iraq will move, but they don’t,” says Karimi.
The political situation in Turkey and the Middle East is more likely to push Kurds and Iraqis to flee the region than economic factors.
The Kurds, long discontented with the current regime in Baghdad, have been very vocal in their criticism of Turkey and the Turks.
Some media outlets in Kurdistan call the Turkish media “fake news” and refer to their reports as “lies.” Others insist the country is overrun with economic migrants, and they wish the Turkish government would act, but they are afraid of reprisals.
The majority of Turkish economic migrants hail from Turkey’s northern Kurdish regions. But a few Kurds have also fled to neighboring Syria, which borders Turkey.
The Syrian government considers them illegal immigrants and wants them to leave. But many Kurds and Turkmens have refused to leave and are demanding “protection.”
Last month, Turkey refused to let the Syrian Ambassador into Turkey, and the foreign ministry declared him “persona non grata” for the last time. Syria blames Turkey for launching an offensive inside its territory that led to hundreds of civilians fleeing their homes.
Everyone thinks everyone will move, but not everyone does. The Kurds may flee to Iran, Turkey, and Syria, but they also think everyone will leave Turkey. The true picture is more complicated. There are many Kurds who are perfectly happy with their lives in Turkey. The country has been home for them for hundreds of years, and they have grown to love the country.
In fact, more than a few Kurds are proud of Turkey, say they don’t want to leave and believe the situation is exaggerated by media outlets.
But those who fled to the United States in the 1990s, the refugees of Bosnia, and the millions of refugees who have fled to Europe believe everyone will move.
As for the ones who left in the first half of the 20th century, many thought the Arabs, Turks, Greeks, and Arabs would all leave, but those claims turned out to be false.
True, Arabs have left. They’ve moved to many countries, mostly in Europe and the United States. A minority has moved to many other countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Many believe there will be a mass exodus in the Middle East, but only a few have left.
Some say that everyone who thinks they are leaving is just false optimism, but some people believe they will have to leave, including the Kurds who are leaving now.
Pak24tv reports that “every Kurd in Turkey thinks everyone will leave.” The reality is that many left at some point and those who left have left.
“Everyone thinks everyone will move, but not everyone does,” says Karimi.
Those who fled during the 1990s, when Turkey’s first democratic government was elected, did not intend to stay.
Most Kurds left because they feared the violence that erupted when Turks attacked Kurds in the east. Most left in peace because most wanted to return home after living away for years.