Israeli FM Lieberman Tells Kerry Independent Kurdish State is a Foregone Conclusion; Peres Says De-Facto Kurd State is Democratic
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the emergence of an independent Kurdish state was a “foregone conclusion,” while Israeli President Shimon Peres told reporters in Washington that the “de-facto” state Kurds have created is democratic, Reuters reported.
The public endorsements come only days after Kurdish oil tanker SCF Altai was unloaded in Israel’s Ashkelon Port after having been shunned by the U.S. and Morocco to not upset the embattled Iraqi regime in Baghdad, which opposes the Kurds using their own pipeline network to Turkey to export their crude.
In Paris, Lieberman’s spokesman quoted the foreign minister as telling Kerry: “Iraq is breaking up before our eyes and it would appear that the creation of an independent Kurdish state is a foregone conclusion.”
On Tuesday, Kerry had visited Iraqi Kurdish leaders and urged them to seek deeper political integration with Baghdad.
On Wednesday, Peres said he had told U.S. President Barack Obama that he did not see unifying Iraq as possible without “massive” foreign military intervention, with Kurdish separation from the Shi’ite Muslim majority and Sunni Arab minority being beneficial.
“The Kurds have, de facto, created their own state, which is democratic. One of the signs of a democracy is the granting of equality to women,” Peres told reporters in Washington, adding that neighboring Turkey appeared to accept the Kurds’ status as it was helping them export oil.
Senior Israeli defense official Amos Gilad on Tuesday told Army Radio that Israel has downplayed its ties to the Kurds for their benefit. He said, “Our silence – in public, at least – is best. Any unnecessary utterance on our part can only harm them.”
Cooperation has allegedly included Israel providing military training for Kurds in northern Iraq, in return for their help in smuggling out Jews, as well as in spying on Saddam Hussein’s regime in Baghdad and, more recently, on Iran.
Reuters cited retired Mossad station chief in Kurdish northern Iraq Eliezer Tsafrir who said the relations were kept secret at the request of the Kurds.
“We’d love it to be out in the open, to have an embassy there, to have normal relations,” he told Reuters. “But we keep it clandestine because that’s what they want.”
Reuters said: “There are some 30 million Kurds on a swathe of land running through eastern Turkey, northern Syria, northern Iraq and western Iran. They have hesitated to declare independence in Iraq, mindful of opposition from neighboring states with Kurdish populations.”
On Tuesday, Ksenia Svetlova, Arab affairs analyst for Israel’s Russian-language Channel 9 and a fellow at Mitvim, the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, said “those who monitor Kurdish-Israeli relations were not surprised” by the growing ties with the Jewish State.
Svetlova wrote that a Kurdish magazine, ‘Israel-Kurd,’ published in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil in Arabic and Kurdish, explored Israeli history and politics in depth for its local audience.
“The editors explained that Jews and Kurds are more than just neighbors; they are actually close relatives who share a common ancestor – the biblical patriarch Abraham,” she said. “This view is widespread among Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan, where many believe Abraham was of Kurdish descent.”
“Many Kurds draw close parallels with Israel, also a non-Arab nation encircled by enemies who oppose its independence,” Svetlova said.