Mon, Oct 02, 2017 - Page 5 News List

Turkish president sees Israel’s hand in Kurdistan vote

AFP, ISTANBUL, Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday said that Israel’s intelligence agency played a role in Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence vote — allegedly proved by the waving of Israeli flags during celebrations for the “Yes” victory.

Ankara fiercely opposed the referendum and has threatened sanctions against the region, reflecting its worries about its own sizable Kurdish minority.

In a televised speech, Erdogan said Turkey had been saddened to see some Iraqi Kurds acclaiming the referendum outcome with Israeli flags.

“This shows one thing, that this administration [in northern Iraq] has a history with Mossad, they are hand-in-hand together,” Erdogan said in Erzurum in eastern Turkey.

Iran and Iraq’s central government in Baghdad have also expressed alarm over the referendum and have refused to recognize its validity.

Israel has been the only country to openly support an independent Kurdish state, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backing “the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own.”

Erdogan has derided the Israeli support.

“Are you aware of what you are doing?” Erdogan said in an appeal to Iraqi Kurdish leaders. “Only Israel supports you.”

Ankara has threatened a series of measures to punish Iraqi Kurds, including shutting the land border between Turkey and the region and halting the transit of oil from Iraqi Kurdistan to the southern Turkish port of Ceyhan, an economic lifeline.

On Friday, the Turkish carriers Turkish Airlines, Atlas and Pegasus suspended their flights to Iraqi Kurdistan for an unspecified period of time.

KURDISTAN ‘WILL PAY’

Erdogan on Saturday vowed that Iraqi Kurdistan “will pay a price” for the “unacceptable” referendum, without elaborating.

“An independent state is not being founded in northern Iraq, but on the contrary a continuously bleeding wound is being opened,” he said.

“To ignore this reality benefits neither us, nor our Kurdish brothers in Iraq,” he said, calling on Iraqi Kurds to “wake up from this dream” of independence.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Turkey was working with Iraq and Iran to “thwart the games being played in the region.”

Yildirim had previously announced plans to hold a summit with Iranian and Iraqi leaders to coordinate how to respond to Monday last week’s referendum.

Erdogan is due to visit Tehran on Wednesday.

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