A number of Turkish media outlets supportive of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have begun proliferating apparently false news reports claiming rival Kurdish groups entered into a secret deal with Israel to gain their independence by resettling Jews to the region.
Stories appearing Wednesday in Turkish newspapers, such as Yenia Akit and Aksam, that back Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party alleged that Mahmoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, agreed to welcome some 200,000 Israeli Jews of Kurdish origin, Al-Monitor reported. In exchange, Israel would reportedly back Barzani’s bid for Kurdish statehood in an upcoming referendum, that’s been met with opposition by nearly every regional actor, including Iran, Iraq and Turkey.
Turkey has been especially opposed to an independent Kurdistan as it deals with a decades-long insurgency at home by the nationalist militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkey has suspected other U.S.-backed Kurdish movements in Iraq and Syria of bearing links to the PKK and has attempted to pressure fellow NATO member U.S. into diminishing support for Kurds, which have proved an effective ally against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).
The U.S., along with a number of European countries involved in the U.S.-led fight against ISIS, considers the PKK a terrorist organization, but considers other Kurdish militias, such as the Syrian People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Iraqi peshmerga units, separate entities.
by Tom O’Connor