Turkmen seek key positions in new Syrian cabinet

With their firm support for the ouster of the brutal regime in Syria, Syrian Turkmen should hold at least one ministerial position in the future cabinet of a democratic Syria, said Ibrahim Ahmet of the newly established Syrian Turkmen Assembly.

“The Turkmen have been long deprived of their rights in Syria. When they take their place in the new Syrian political regime, they should hold at least one of the three most important ministries,” Ibrahim Ahmet, leader of the Aleppo-based Fatihin Torunlari (Grandchildren of Fatih) Brigade, said in an interview with Today's Zaman.

Ahmet was elected to the 39-member Turkmen council of the Syrian Turkmen Assembly at the Dedeman Ankara Hotel on Sunday. The Syrian Turkmen aim to take a more active role in the Syrian political opposition through self-organization.

Council members were selected by region at the meeting. Members will represent such areas as Hama, the Bayir-Bucak region of Latakia and Aleppo.

Turkmen assembly against partition of Syria

Asked his opinion of the possible establishment of an Alawite state in western Syria, Ahmet stated that “the Turkmen have always been against any partition of Syria. They have always stood for territorial integrity.”

One post-conflict breakup scenario for Syria sees the establishment of three new states in its place: a Kurdish region along the Turkish-Syrian border, referred to by Kurds as Western Kurdistan; an Alawite state, the center of which would be the city of Latakia, on the Mediterranean coast of Syria; and a Sunni Muslim state that would occupy the remainder of the country.

The Turkmen population is not sufficiently concentrated in any one part of the country for them to have an absolute majority anywhere; instead, they are spread throughout Syria.

Turkmen brigades already have an active role within the armed opposition. They fight against the regime along with Free Syrian Army (FSA) troops. Approximately 10,000 Syrian Turkmen are involved in these brigades. The Sultan Murat Brigade, The Abdulhamid I Brigade and the Fatihin Torunlari Brigade are some of the most prominent Turkmen brigades in Aleppo. There are also troops in Hama, Damascus and Rakka. In Damascus is the Golden Brigade and in Rakka the Hak Bayragi (Flag of God).

“The Turkmen have battled on all these fronts since the start of civil war, alongside the FSA,” said Ahmet.

Ahmet also denied claims of external military support to the armed opposition. “We have not yet received any foreign military aid. We are fighting a completely local struggle. Charities and zakat [alms] collected helps us to continue our struggle,” he explained.

Ahmet actively fights in Aleppo, while his wife and children stay at a Turkish camp built for fleeing Syrian refugees.