News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah says Israeli government is gunning for war, warns Kurdish independence referendum in Iraq will divide the region • “The Jews are being used,” he says • Turkish president says Kurds will pay a price for independence vote.
The leader of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah said on Sunday that the Israeli government was pushing the region into war in Syria, Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip.
On Sunday, in a speech to followers on the occasion of Ashura, when Shiite Muslims commemorate the slaying of the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah remarked that the Israeli government did not have a “correct assessment of where this war will lead if they ignite it.”
Directly addressing “the Israelis and Jews across the world,” Nasrallah added that “we in the resistance have said from the beginning that our war is against the Zionists who occupy Palestinian land, not against the Jews.”
“The Jews who came from all over the world need to know that they are being used as fuel for a regional war and an American plot targeting the peoples of the region,” Nasrallah continued.
Addressing “religious sages” among the Jews, he said: “The government of Israel, headed by [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, is leading you toward ruin and destruction because he is looking for war.”
“If Netanyahu launches a war,” he warned, “no part of occupied Palestine will be safe.”
“Israel has no qualms about issuing threats to Lebanon, and it continues its aggressive approach in Syria under the guise of preventing the resistance from developing new military capabilities,” he said. “Israel is using every possible excuse to drag the region into war. This war will be at your expense and you will be the ones to pay the price.”
In conclusion, Nasrallah called on “all Jews to disconnect their values from those of the Zionists, who are on a path toward certain devastation. I call on [the Jews] to leave the territories of Palestine and return to the countries they came from. If Netanyahu starts a war in the region, they will not have time to flee Palestine.”
Sunday’s speech came one day after Nasrallah warned that a recent Iraqi Kurdish independence vote marked the first step toward the division of the Middle East, arguing that it would lead to “internal wars” and must be opposed.
In a separate speech, also via satellite, Nasrallah labeled the events in northern Iraq, where Kurds overwhelmingly voted for independence last Monday, as a threat to Turkey, Syria and Iran, all of which have large Kurdish minorities, and to the entire region.
Iran, Turkey and Syria have rejected the results of the largely symbolic referendum.
Nasrallah warned that the divisions sparked by the vote would also reach other countries in the region including Saudi Arabia, a country that he harshly criticized in his speech.
“The responsibility of the Kurds, Iraqi people and concerned countries … is to stand against the beginning of divisions,” Nasrallah said.
“It will open the door to partition, partition, partition,” he said, adding that “partition means taking the region to internal wars whose end and time frame is known only to God.”
Nasrallah charged Israel with supporting Kurdish statehood and described the referendum as part of a U.S.-Israeli plot to carve up the region.
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.
Hezbollah fighters are currently fighting along with other Iran-backed militias and the Syrian army against ISIS fighters in eastern Syria.
“[ISIS] is at its end. It is a matter of time in Iraq and Syria,” Nasrallah said.
Turkey: Kurds will pay the price for independence vote
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued threats on Saturday, saying that Iraqi Kurdish authorities would pay the price for the independence referendum.
“They are not forming an independent state, they are opening a wound in the region to twist the knife in,” Erdogan told members of his ruling Justice and Development Party in the eastern Turkish city of Erzurum.
Erdogan has built strong commercial ties with Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq, which pump hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil daily through Turkey for export to world markets.
“We don’t regret what we did in the past. But since the conditions are changed and the Kurdish Regional Government, to which we provided all support, took steps against us, it would pay the price,” he said.
Turkey has repeatedly threatened to impose economic sanctions, effectively cutting their main access to international markets, and has held joint military exercises with Iraqi troops on the border.
However, after Erdogan said that Iraqi Kurds would go hungry if Ankara halted the cross-border flow of trucks and oil, it has said that any measures it took would not target civilians and instead focus on those who organized the referendum.
Iraq’s Defense Ministry said on Friday it plans to take control of the borders of the autonomous Kurdistan region in coordination with Iran and Turkey.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, speaking on Saturday, did not refer specifically to those plans, but said Ankara would no longer deal with Kurdish authorities in Erbil.
“From now on, our relationships with the region will be conducted with the central government, Baghdad,” he said. “As Iran, Iraq and Turkey, we work to ensure the games being played in the region will fail.”