Israel Sees Benefits in an Independent Kurdistan

(AFP-Arab News-Saudi Arabia) Jonah Mandel - Israel has become the only country to openly support an independent Kurdish state. Iraq's Kurdish region plans to hold a non-binding referendum on statehood on Sept. 25. "The Kurds have been and will continue to be reliable and long-term allies of Israel since they are, like us, a minority group in the region," said former Israeli minister Gideon Saar. "We need to encourage independence of minorities that were wronged by regional arrangements since [the] Sykes-Picot [agreement] over the past 100 years and have been repressed under authoritarian regimes, like Saddam Hussein's in Iraq and the Assads in Syria." "Looking at the Kurds' location on a map you realize they can be a dam blocking the spread of radical Islam in the region, and in practice we've seen them exclusively fighting IS. Throughout the years the Kurds were never drawn to anti-Israeli or anti-Zionist perceptions and maintained good ties with the Jewish people and Israel." Ofra Bengio, who heads a Kurdish studies program at Tel Aviv University, noted that Israel supplied covert military, intelligence and humanitarian aid to Kurdistan in 1965-1975. When Jews living in Iraqi cities were subject to harassment under Baath rule in the early 1970s, Kurds smuggled them out of the country to safety, she said. Former Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani visited Israel, as did his son, the current president of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, Massud Barzani.

2017-09-20 00:00:00

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