Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The flag of Iraqi Kurdistan

In a broad show of its military force, Iran launched war games on Sunday near the Iraqi Kurdistan border, according to Iranian state media. The military drills are part of the annual ‘Sacred Defense Week’ exercises held in Iran to mark the beginning of the 1980-1988 war with Iraq.


But late Saturday Turkey also launched air strikes against what it said were terrorist targets linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) group in the Gara region of northern Iraq. Ankara said its troops had spotted PKK terrorists preparing to attack Turkish military outposts on the border with Turkey, according to Reuters.

Both moves – each of which appeared aimed at the Kurds – came one day before the Kurdish population in Iraq heads to the polls on Monday for a referendum on independence in the region. Iran and Turkey are both deeply opposed to any moves toward secession or independence from their own Kurdish populations.

Israel remains the first and only nation in the world to back Iraqi Kurdistan’s bid for independence. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement posted to Twitter earlier in the month, Israel “clearly differentiates between the PKK and the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people.”


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.