DIPLOMACY >No more ‘Lawrence games’ in region: Turkish President Erdoğan


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Comparing the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) ambitions in northern Iraq to the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said “new Lawrence of Arabias will not be successful this time”

The Iraqi Kurdish move for independence will end in “disappointment,” Erdoğan said, warning that Turkmens are being oppressed in northern Iraq and their rights are being violated. 

He added that if Iraqi Kurds serve “other actors’ interests in the region,” they will not be able to ask for help from Turkey.

Without explicitly naming those “interests,” Erdoğan’s statement followed the waving of Israeli flags during some celebrations of the referendum in the KRG, which was widely reported in the Turkish media.

During the Arab revolt in 1916, the British Army dispatched its own military mission to liaise between the Arab leadership and the British high command in Egypt, in order to coordinate strategy against the Ottoman authorities. This mission included young British Lieutenant T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia.

Meanwhile, Erdoğan also recalled the Turkish military’s Euphrates Shield Operation into northern Syria targeting Kurdish militants and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which started in August 2016, hinting that it could do the same in Iraq. 

“If we have reacted [to the referendum] so harshly, it is because we only want the best for Arabs, Turkmens and Kurds,” he said.


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