Turkish president says Syria and Iraq are being divided along ethnic and sectarian lines.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that global colonialist groups were deploying the “divide and conquer” strategy in the region.

“Our ancient geography has been going through a tough, painful and unsteady period in which the cards are being reshuffled and the maps are being reshaped,” he said at a meeting in capital Ankara with local figures from Turkey’s east and southeast.

“Exactly like the past century, the motto for this century is ‘divide and conquer’. This strategy has been implemented successfully by global colonialist groups for many years.”

He said that the purpose of this strategy was to divide Syria and Iraq along ethnic and sectarian lines in order to surround the south of Turkey.

Speaking about the Sept. 25 illegitimate referendum in Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Iraq, Erdogan said: “Nothing has finished, everything has just started.”

“You have Iran on one side, Turkey in the north, Iraqi government in the south and Syria in the west. What will you do? Where will you go? How will you go out?” Erdogan said, adding that an air embargo had been imposed in the Kurdish region.

“Who is giving advice to you? You have only Israel backing you. You put the former French foreign minister on your right and a Jew on your left, and are working together on a table. They are not your friends… They are with you today and will disappear tomorrow.”

On Sept. 25, Iraqis in Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)-held areas -- and in several areas disputed between Baghdad and Erbil -- voted on whether to declare independence from Iraq.

According to results announced by the KRG, almost 93 percent of registered voters cast ballots in favor of independence.

The illegitimate referendum was heavily criticized by most regional and international actors, many warning that it would distract from Iraq’s ongoing fight against terrorism and further destabilize the already-volatile region.

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AA