Erdogan: Israeli Mossad Involved in Kurdish Referendum; Hezbollah: It's a U.S.-Israeli Plot

Turkey's president says the waving of Israeli flags at events celebrating the 'yes' vote proves Israel's involvement

A Kurdish man holds an Israeli and Kurdish flag during a rally to show support for the independence referendum, Erbil, Iraq, September 16, 2017, and urkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a police academy graduation ceremony at his palace in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017.
A Kurdish man holds an Israeli and Kurdish flag during a rally to show support for the independence referendum, Erbil, Iraq, September 16, 2017, and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. AZAD LASHKARI/REUTERS, AFP/KAYHAN OZER

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan alleged on Saturday that Israel's Mossad spy agency played a role in the Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum, AFP reported.

Speaking in eastern Turkey, Erdogan said that the fact Israeli flags were waved during events celebrating the "yes" vote proves Israel's involvement.

"This shows one thing, that this administration [the Kurdish leadership in northern Iraq] has a history with Mossad, they are hand-in-hand together," Erdogan was quoted as saying.

>> Israel endorsed Kurdish independence. Saladin would have been proud >>

With 92 percent voting "yes," Iraq's Kurds overwhelmingly backed independence in Monday's referendum, defying neighboring countries which fear the vote could fuel Kurdish separatism within their own borders and lead to fresh conflict.

Speaking directly to Kurdish leaders, Erdogan asked, "Are you aware of what you are doing? Only Israel supports you. Wake up from this dream."

The powerful Lebanese group Hezbollah struck a similar tone on Saturday, with Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, head of the Iran-backed group, describing the referendum as part of a U.S.-Israeli plot to carve up the region.

FILE PHOTO: Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Nasrallah in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, May 25, 2017
HASSAN ABDALLAH/REUTERS

Nasrallah noted that his group's arch enemy Israel had come out in support of Kurdish statehood and called the independence vote a threat to the whole region, and not just Iraq and neighboring states with Kurdish populations. 

>> Explained // Who are the Kurds and why are they seeking independence from Iraq? >>

"It will open the door to partition, partition, partition," Nasrallah said, adding that "partition means taking the region to internal wars whose end and time frame is known only to God."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the only leader to endorse an independent Kurdistan. Ahead of the independence vote, Netanyahu said that Israel "supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve a state of their own."

The United States came out in opposition to the vote, along with major European states and neighboring countries Turkey and Iran. The government of Syria, where Kurdish groups have established autonomous regions, also opposed the referendum.

Nasrallah was speaking to supporters on the eve of Ashura, when Shi'ites commemorate the slaying of the Prophet Mohammad's grandson, Imam Hussein, at Kerbala in 680 AD. 

Hezbollah, a political and military movement, is a major player in the Syrian conflict, where it has deployed thousands of fighters in support of President Bashar al-Assad. 

Hezbollah fighters are currently fighting along with other Iran-backed militias and the Syrian army against Islamic State militants in eastern Syria. 

"Daesh is at its end. It is a matter of time in Iraq and Syria," Nasrallah said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. 

He said counter attacks mounted by the Islamic State in eastern Syria in the last two days were expected as the group was besieged, adding that it was "incapable of recovering ground."