Turkmen City that has changed the Fate of Iraq: Amirli

Amirli (Emirli) is a Turkmen district of the Province of Salahaddin in Iraq. It is one of the Turkmen regions well known in Iraq due to its history, geographic location, and important events that took place therein. Amirli lies at  the South end of what could be considered the  Turkmen Plain, composed of Altınköprü, Kirkuk, Tazehurmatu, Dakuk, and Tuzhurmatu. Given its geographical position, Amirli occupies a strategic position as it connects the Turkmen region, at its southern end, to the Arab region. Throughout history, Amirli has always been one of the places where Turks had chosen to settle inside Iraq.

For years, Turkmens in Amirli had earned their living as shepherds and through  agricultural activities. Nevertheless, since the beginning of the 1990s and especially after 2003, its inhabitants have started to prefer working as servants in public institutions. The Turkish dialect spoken in Amirli (Turkmen language), is very similar to that spoken in Bayat villages. The Turkmen language spoken in Bestamlı and some Bayat villages is the dialect most similar to that of Amirli. The language spoken in Amirli differs to a certain extent from the dialects of Kirkuk, Tal Afar, and Tuzhurmatu.

The people of Amirli are  known for their adherence to cultural values. Amirli, which is located far away from big cities, has closer tribal/family ties compared to other Turkmen regions except for Tal Afar. People of Amirli have been excluded from the local and central governments by the rulers who governed Iraq for a long time. Amirli, which had been a subdistrict under Tuzhurmatu District until 29 January, 1976, was separated from  Kirkuk province and was placed under Salahaddin province in line with the policies targeting demographic change carried out by the Baath regime. In this way, the purpose was to distance Amirli and other Turkmen regions from Turkmens living in Kirkuk province.

Besides, during the Baath regime, many Turkmens of Amirli were accused of being members of the Islamic Dawa Party, and some were forced to leave the country. Since 2003, Turkmens of Amirli have tried to be active in the provinces of Baghdad and Salahaddin. Today, the population of the district center of Amirli, which is totally composed of Turkmens, is estimated to be around 23 thousand. The total population of the district, including the villages, is estimated to be more than 45 thousand. Amirli has often been on the agenda in  Iraq due to terrorist attacks. Having been based in the Hamrin Mountains to the south, west, and east of the district, terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and ISIS have carried out hundreds of attacks against the people of the district. For this reason, Amirli shared a similar fate with Tuzhurmatu.