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October 24, 2017 4:54 pm

Iran Rejoices Over Defeat of ‘Second Israel,’ as Netanyahu Urges Support for Kurds

avatar by Ben Cohen

Fighters from the Iranian-backed Heshd al-Shaabi Shia militia in Iraqi Kurdistan. Photo: Screenshot.

The chief of staff to the Iranian regime’s “supreme leader” said on Tuesday that a US-Israeli “plot” to create a “second Israel” in Iraqi Kurdistan had been thwarted through the seizure of Kurdish territory by Iranian-backed forces over the last week.

Mohamadi Gulpaygani, who serves as chief of staff to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, singled out both his boss and Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), for special praise.

“The United States and Israel had plotted to create a second Israel in the Kurdistan Region, and it was shameful to wave the Israeli flag there,” Gulpaygani said, referring to the frequent display of Israeli flags at Kurdish independence rallies prior to the September 25 referendum in which 93 percent of voters supported an independent Kurdistan.

“The instructions of the supreme leader and the sacrifices of General Soleimani spoiled their plots, and Kirkuk was liberated without a single drop of blood being shed,” Gulpaygani said, in remarks quoted by the Fars semi-official state news agency.

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Iran’s rhetoric echoes that of Turkey’s autocratic president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has also denounced an independent Kurdish state as a “second Israel.” Turkish media frequently use the term in their reporting of events on the ground.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again expressed sympathy for Kurdish aspirations on Tuesday. In a speech commemorating Rehavam Ze’evi — a former IDF general and government minister assassinated by a Palestinian terrorist in 2008 — Netanyahu praised the Kurds for demonstrating “national maturity and international maturity.”

Netanyahu recalled that Ze’evi had visited Iraqi Kurdistan in the 1960s, where he supervised the setting up of an Israeli army field hospital. “The visit made a deep impression on him,” Netanyahu said. “He came face to face with warm expressions of support for Israel which continue to this day.”

Netanyahu added that Israel had “very great sympathy for (Kurdish) desires and the world needs to concern itself with their safety and with their future.”

Israeli defense analysts have argued that the recent Kurdish defeats with American quiescence will impact Israel’s strategic position as well. “While the United States continues to stress that efforts must focus on the Islamic State (ISIS), elements led by Iran are not waiting, and are acting quickly and with determination to prepare the ground for the post-Islamic State era, capitalizing on the group’s weakness,” a briefing on the fall of Kirkuk published by Israel’s influential Tel Aviv University-affiliated Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) observed on Monday.

According to Kurdish officials, around 600 civilians, along with 30 Peshmerga fighters, were killed during the recent Iranian-backed Iraqi government and Shia militia advances on the city of Kirkuk and other Kurdish areas.

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