Israel Seeks End of Isolation by Backing Kurdish Statehood

Israel Seeks End of Isolation by Backing Kurdish StatehoodIsrael Seeks End of Isolation by Backing Kurdish Statehood

The planned vote for Iraqi Kurdistan's secession can be a good opportunity for Israel to find itself an ally in the region and end its isolation, a lawmaker said.

In a recent talk with ICANA, Jalil Rahimi added that the occupying regime supports the creation of a non-Arab country for it would act as a buffer zone to cushion Iran's power.

"The isolated occupying regime has long sought to have relations with 'strange brothers' [non-Arab countries having no animosity toward Israel] like Turkey and Iran before its 1979 revolution to have secure zones in the region," he said.

"That plan fell flat after the Iranian revolution, but Israel is trying to revive it now by pursuing a Kurdish state in the region."

On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became a lone source of support for a secession referendum in Iraq and for a separate Kurdish state this month. Israel "supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve their own state", Netanyahu said in a statement. Israel, with few allies in the region, has previously spoken in favor of Kurdish autonomy, but the timing of Netanyahu's statement so close to the scheduled vote gives it added significance. Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government plans to hold a referendum on Sept. 25, to be followed by another vote for a new parliament and president on Nov. 6.

From Israel's vantage point, Kurdistan, which has its own disputes with Arabs, can join hands with Israel as a "strange brother", Rahimi said.

He also noted that a Kurdish state, which abuts Iran's western borders, can also allow the occupying regime to follow its vicious plans in closer proximity to Iran.

Analysts say the referendum plan, which has stirred Arab-Kurdish ethnic tensions, could mark the end of an era of cooperation during which Baghdad and Erbil battled the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group after IS seized swathes of northern and western Iraq in the summer of 2014.

On Friday, the parliament of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region approved holding a referendum on secession on Sept. 25 despite growing opposition from Baghdad and neighboring countries.

The parliament session was the first held since the legislature was suspended nearly two years ago, though only 68 of 111 lawmakers attended due to a boycott by the main opposition movement Gorran.

Earlier, the Iraqi Parliament in Baghdad had ruled the secession plan "unconstitutional".

KRG's decision to hold the referendum has met the opposition of regional states, including Iran and Turkey, as well as others such as Russia, Germany and the US.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned the vote could prove "a very, very bad thing" for the Iraqi Kurds, whose economy is heavily dependent on oil exports via a pipeline running through Turkey. Turkey's National Security Council will meet on Sept. 22 to decide its official position.

  Kirkuk, the Flashpoint

Pointing to Iraq's oil-rich province of Kirkuk deciding to take part in the vote in spite of Baghdad's fierce opposition, Rahimi said, "[KRG President] Masoud Barzani's talks of using force in Kirkuk could become the starting point [for confrontation] between Iraq and Erbil."

Barzani had said, "If any group wants to change the reality of Kirkuk using force, they should expect that every single Kurd will be ready to fight over it."

Rahimi warned that in case of a war breaking out over Kirkuk, "Iran and Turkey would side with Baghdad."

"Military alliances are taking shape around Kirkuk, which may escalate to full-blown tensions in the coming weeks," he concluded.

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