Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is in Iran on an official visit, said the recent decision by Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region to hold an independence referendum was taken in consultation with the Israeli spy agency Mossad.
Speaking at a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, in Tehran on Wednesday, Erdogan pointed to the latest developments in the region, including the independence vote held last Monday in the Iraqi Kurdistan and said Tehran and Ankara do not recognize the referendum.
“Currently, no country in the world supports the Iraqi Kurdistan Region’ independence except Israel,” the Turkish president said.
“In our opinion, a decision taken by sitting down at the (negotiating) table with Mossad is illegitimate and unacceptable,” he said, adding that Iran and Turkey have declared their firm stance on the issue.
He also said Tehran, Ankara, and Baghdad will take stricter measures to prevent the negative effects of the referendum.
The Iraqi Kurdistan Region went ahead with its plan to hold the referendum on September 25 although Iraq’s neighbors and countries in the Middle East, including Iran and Turkey, had voiced opposition to such a move and supported the Baghdad central government.
Thousands of Kurdish people in favor of KRG’s secession from Iraq took to the streets in Erbil that night, with some waving Israeli flags to celebrate.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the only leader in the region to endorse the referendum, while all neighbors have warned that the secession plan would bring instability to the region and disintegrate Iraq.