Al-Monitor- Just four months after accusing Iran of Persian “expansionism” in the Middle East, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Tehran on Oct. 4 to discuss bilateral cooperation and an expansion of economic ties with the country’s highest officials. One of the issues that has recently brought Iran and Turkey closer is the Kurdish independence referendum held Sept. 25 in northern Iraq. The vote poses a challenge to both countries because of their own Kurdish populations.
While in Iran, Erdogan met with the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s highest authority. Speaking about the Iraqi Kurdistan referendum, Khamenei said, “In confronting this event, Iran and Turkey must take every possible action, and Iraq’s government must take serious actions on this issue.” He called the referendum “treason” against the region and a future threat with possible long-term consequences.
Echoing previous remarks by Erdogan, Khamenei said that the Kurdistan referendum was in the first instance to the benefit of Israel and in the second to the United States. He further stated that foreign powers, in particular Israel, want to divert Iran and Turkey’s attention from important regional issues and asserted that the Kurdistan referendum would create a “new Israel.” The reference to a “new Israel” made headlines in a number of media outlets, including coverage by Javan, a newspaper linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
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