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Turkish president slams modern day 'Lawrences of Arabia'

Erdogan: 'Syria has many Kobanis. What will happen to Aleppo, Latakia, Turkmen and other people after Kobane is saved?'
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his visit to Syrian refugee camps in Islahiye town of Turkey's Gaziantep province on 7 October, 2014 (AA)

Modern day "Lawrence of Arabia" figures that aim to destabilize the entire region from within are still at play, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday.

The Turkish president made the reference to T. E. Lawrence, a British Army officer credited with instigating an Arab insurgency against the then Ottoman Turkish rule during World War I, in his address at Istanbul's Marmara University.

Lawrence of Arabia is also the name of an epic 1962-Hollywood movie that attempted to give an autobiographical account of the famous British officer.

"Lawrence was an English spy disguised as an Arab," Erdogan said in a televised speech.

"There are new voluntary Lawrences, disguised as journalists, religious men, writers and terrorists," he added.

"It is our duty to explain to the world that there are modern Lawrences who were fooled by a terror organisation," he added.

He said "the artificially-made" borders in the Middle East that were drawn by imperial powers after World War I were the "real cause of long-term pain and crises" in the region.

"Each conflict in this region has been designed a century ago" when the borders of the Middle East were redrawn after World War I, said Erdogan.

"It is our duty to stop this," he said. 

The Turkish president reiterated the state policy that the removal of the Islamic State (IS) group was not enough and that deposing of the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should be the main target.

IS is currently advancing on the Syrian town of Kobane on the Turkish-Syrian border. An estimated 200,000 Syrian Kurd refugees have already fled into Turkey over the last three weeks.

"Syria has many Kobanis. What will happen to Aleppo, Latakia, Turkmen and other people after Kobane is saved?” he asked.

Erdogan again highlighted the necessity of forming a no-fly zone and a safe zone in Syria, along with continuing the US-led international airstrikes on IS targets in Syria's north.

"The moderates should be trained and equipped either in Turkey or inside those safe zones, so they can conduct their war against the Assad regime."

He also criticized the Kurdistan Workers’ Party's claims the Turkish government was doing nothing to halt the advance of the IS in Kobane, which sparked last week's protests in Turkey that killed 34 people.

He also criticized the People's Democratic Party, or the HDP, for its call to people to come out on the streets on the pretext of supporting Kobane.

"They are making Sykes-Picot agreements hiding behind freedom of press, a war of independence or jihad," he said, referring to the agreement between Britain and France that sought to divide up the Ottoman Empire into spheres of influence.