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THE STANS
Israel denies Turkish claim of involvement in Kurd vote
by Staff Writers
Jerusalem (AFP) Oct 1, 2017


Iran, Iraq plan joint drills over Kurdish independence vote
Tehran (AFP) Sept 30, 2017 - Iran will hold a joint military exercise with Iraq in response to the Iraqi Kurdistan region's "illegitimate" independence referendum, an Iranian military official announced on Saturday.

Iran, which borders Iraq and the autonomous Kurdish region, strongly opposed the vote held Monday, fearing it would provoke separatists among its own Kurdish population.

Iraq's central government has demanded the annulment of the referendum, which resulted in a huge "yes" for independence.

"A joint military exercise between Iran's armed forces and units from the Iraqi army will be held in the coming days along the shared border," Iranian Armed Forces spokesman Masoud Jazayeri told reporters.

The drills will take place at several crossings on Iran's border with Iraqi Kurdistan, he said, speaking after a high-level meeting of Iranian commanders.

"In the meeting, the territorial integrity and unity of Iraq and the illegitimacy of the independence referendum in northern Iraq were stressed again and necessary decisions were taken to provide security at the borders and welcome Iraq's central government forces to take position at border crossings."

Tehran has accepted a request by Baghdad for an Iraqi army presence at border crossings.

Iraqi soldiers on Tuesday also took part in a Turkish military drill close to the Iraqi frontier.

Iran has been cooperating with Baghdad in building pressure on Kurdistan, notably by suspending all flights to and from the autonomous region and banning fuel exports and imports.

Macron invites Iraq PM to Paris to discuss Kurdish vote
Paris (AFP) Sept 30, 2017 - French President Emmanuel Macron has invited Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to visit Paris on Thursday, saying the aim is to calm tensions after the deeply divisive Kurdish independence referendum.

In a statement, the presidency said France wanted to "help Iraq to stop tensions from setting in" following the vote on Monday, which saw Iraqi Kurdistan overwhelmingly support secession.

In a phone call on Wednesday, "Macron stressed the importance of preserving the unity and integrity of Iraq while recognising the rights of the Kurdish people. Any escalation must be avoided," the presidency said in the statement late Friday.

"Faced with the priority of fighting Daesh and the stabilisation of Iraq, Iraqis must remain united," it added, referring to the Islamic State group.

The office of Abadi, however, on Saturday denied that Macron's invitation had any link to the crisis with Iraqi Kurdistan.

"There is no relation between the invitation and the crisis caused by the unconstitutional referendum," it said.

"The visit aims to reinforce bilateral relations and to focus on the fight against terrorism in the region in which Iraq has achieved enormous victories," it added.

Iraqi forces ousted IS from the northern Nineveh province on August 31, and is now fighting to retake the jihadist group's last footholds in the country.

Abadi's office stressed the invitation was first made when French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Defence Minister Florence Parly visited Baghdad on August 26.

It said Macron had made no mention of "the need to recognise the rights of the Kurds or stopping an escalation by Baghdad".

"On the contrary, there was a condemnation of the insistence of the Kurdish leadership to hold this referendum and expose the region to instability".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday denied Turkish claims of covert involvement in Iraqi Kurdistan's recent independence vote, reiterating however his "sympathy" for the Kurdish people.

On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel's intelligence agency played a role in the September 25 referendum, citing as proof the waving of Israeli flags during celebrations for the overwhelming "yes" victory.

"This shows one thing, that this administration (in northern Iraq) has a history with Mossad, they are hand-in-hand together," Erdogan said in a televised speech.

Speaking at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu noted Turkey's support for the Islamist Hamas movement which rules Gaza, before denying Erdogan's charge.

"I can understand why those who support Hamas want to see the Mossad wherever things don't work out for them," Netanyahu said in remarks relayed by his office.

"But Israel had no part in the Kurdish referendum, aside from the deep, natural and years-long sympathy of the Jewish people to the Kurdish people and its aspirations," he said.

Israel has been the only country to openly support Kurdish independence, with Netanyahu backing "the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own."

Netanyahu did not specify how and where such a state should come into being.

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

Erdogan sees Israel's hand in Iraqi Kurdistan vote
Istanbul (AFP) Sept 30, 2017 - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday 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 sizeable 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 have expressed alarm over the referendum and have refused to recognise its validity.

Israel has been the only country to openly support an independent Kurdish state, with 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."

- 'Wake up from this dream'-

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.

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.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Turkey was working with Iraq and Iran in order 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 last Monday's referendum.

Erdogan is due to visit Tehran on Wednesday.

Ankara had previously refused to engage in official contacts with Iraqi Kurds, fearing any action that could encourage the creation of an independent Kurdish state could embolden its own Kurds.

But as Turkey's economy has boomed, Erdogan has moved to forge trade ties with Iraq's Kurdistan region, helping to make Iraq the second-largest market for Turkish exports last year, after Germany.

Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani has also become a frequent visitor to Turkey.

Business sources quoted in Turkish media have warned that the closure of the Habur border gate could affect $7 billion (5.9 billion euros) of trade.

THE STANS
Turkey wants summit with Iran and Iraq; Kurds reject 'collective punishment'
Ankara (AFP) Sept 28, 2017
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Thursday he wants to hold a summit with Iranian and Iraqi leaders to coordinate how to respond to the controversial Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum. "We are planning to come together in the near future to coordinate the steps to be taken for the next period with regard to these issues," Yildirim told reporters in the central Turkish provin ... read more

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