Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad supported Iraqi Kurdistan’s referendum on independence as only Israel would recognize the Kurdish administration.
Erdogan made his remarks as he met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, which later said that Tehran and Ankara should respond to the referendum on Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence.
“What is the referendum organized by northern Iraq’s regional administration for? No country in the world apart from Israel recognizes it … A decision made at the table with Mossad is not legitimate, it is illegitimate,” Erdogan said at the joint press conference with Rouhani, as quoted by the Anadolu news agency.
The Turkish president added that Turkey and Iran agreed on maintaining relations with Iraq’s central government.
Iranian Kurds hold Kurdish flags as they take part in a gathering to urge people to vote in the upcoming independence referendum in the town of Bahirka, north of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq
“Turkey and Iran’s determination on the matter is evident. Turkey will only engage with the central government in Iraq and we certainly term this referendum as illegitimate … As you know, there are steps we, both Turkey and Iran, have taken on the matter. But there are more severe steps we will take in the upcoming period,” Erdogan added.
The vote on Iraqi Kurdistan independence took place on September 25 and resulted in 92.7 percent of voters casting their ballots for the autonomous region’s independence from Baghdad. The authorities of Iraq declared the referendum illegitimate and stressed that they would not hold talks with the regional government.
The independence vote is widely criticized not only by the Iraqi central government but also by a number of other countries and international organizations. Israel is the only state in the world that officially supported the holding of a referendum on independence in Iraqi Kurdistan.