by Staff Writers
Jerusalem (AFP) Oct 1, 2017
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
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.
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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