Erdogan continues to blame 'the Jew' for Kurdistan referendum

"You have taken former Foreign Minister of France [Bernard Kouchner] your right-hand side and another Jew [Bernard-Henri Levy] to your left-hand side."
author_image Ari Khalidi

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued on Thursday to associate Kurdistan Region’s last week referendum on independence from Iraq with Jews and Israel while threatening to shut down border crossings and air travel with Kurdistan in near future.

"Who is giving you counsel? Only Israel is behind you," Erdogan said of Kurdistan's President Masoud Barzani who defied international pressure from allies, and threats from neighboring Iran and Turkey to go ahead with the poll.

Ninety-two percent of voters in Kurdistan approved on September 25 the century-old Kurdish quest for statehood.

Erdogan's comments followed his earlier claims in Iran during meetings with President Hassan Rouhani and the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that Kurdistan's vote was a scheme designed by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.

"You have taken former Foreign Minister of France your right-hand side and another Jew to your left-hand side, working on a table with them," Erdogan added, referring to Bernard Kouchner and the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy respectively.

Kurdistan Region's President Masoud Barzani seen in this picture along a group of Western statesmen, intellectuals and Kurdish officials, Sept 25, 2017. (Photo: BHL)
Kurdistan Region's President Masoud Barzani seen in this picture along a group of Western statesmen, intellectuals and Kurdish officials, Sept 25, 2017. (Photo: BHL)

He was alluding to a recent photograph of Barzani's on the night of the referendum with a group of former Western statesmen, intellectuals and Kurdish officials that included the two Frenchmen with Jewish roots, long-time supporters of the Kurdish cause.

Since the emergence of the picture, Turkey's pro-government and Islamist media have been buzzing with conspiracy theories about Levy's activities, his Jewish ethnicity and questions about Barzani's roots, some of the articles loaded with anti-Semitic and anti-Kurdish hostility.

"They are not your friends, not your friends. They are with you today, but will disappear tomorrow," the Turkish President said in a protesting tone during a televised meeting with an audience from Kurdish provinces.

"You have to look at us," he further said, complaining that Kurdistan's leaders did not ask him when they initiated the process for independence.

Young people wave Kurdistan flags during a color festival in Kurdistan Region's capital of Erbil, Sept 15, 2017. (Photo: AFP)
Young people wave Kurdistan flags during a color festival in Kurdistan Region's capital of Erbil, Sept 15, 2017. (Photo: AFP)

He further accused Erbil of being ungrateful to Turkey and treacherous to Iraq but claimed he had no problem with his "Kurdish brothers."

Kurdistan's leadership has not responded to Erdogan's insults, threats, and accusations.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected previous, similar allegations by Erdogan that his country played any role in the Kurdish push for statehood.

Erdogan last week threatened a food sanctions on Kurdistan and vowed to shut down an oil pipeline carrying oil from the region to the world markets through Turkey.

Ankara and Tehran fear the secession of Kurdistan would embolden their millions-strong Kurdish populations to demand further cultural, linguistic and political freedoms, including different degrees of autonomy if not independence.

 

Editing by Ava Homa