Keep up with the news by installing RT’s extension for . Never miss a story with this clean and simple app that delivers the latest headlines to you.

 

Why Israel is in love with Kurdistan

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.

Published time: July 01, 2014 17:26
Families fleeing the violence in the Iraqi city of Mosul wait at a checkpoint in outskirts of Arbil, in Iraq's Kurdistan region, June 10, 2014 (Reuters / Azad Lashkari)

The “Middle East” invented by British and French colonial powers almost a century ago is fast dissolving as ISIS carves a vast piece of real estate from the suburbs of Aleppo to Tikrit and from Mosul to the Jordanian/Iraqi border.

Artificial geography, established in the midst of World War I, via the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement, is at risk; and it’s no accident the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) itself, although dreaming of a Caliphate, is also graphically emphasizing the point. Those states carved out of the fragmented Ottoman Empire are all at risk. In this geopolitical vortex the ultimate free electron is definitely the notion of a Greater Kurdistan.

Iraq is breaking up before our eyes and it would appear that the creation of an independent Kurdish state is a foregone conclusion.” The analysis might have come straight from ISIS – but in fact came from none other than former bouncer and unreformed Zionist, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

What the invariably truculent Lieberman told US Secretary of State John Kerry this week pertained mostly to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq, an autonomous region that - quite handily – is also exporting oil to Israel (the KRG angrily denies it.)

By all practical purposes, Kurdish Peshmergas are now also in control of heavily disputed, oil-rich Kirkuk – after the ignominious withdrawal of Baghdad’s predominantly Shi’ite army as ISIS was advancing. The wily KRG president Masoud Barzani has been adamant; “We will bring all of our forces to preserve Kirkuk.

Talk about being handed over The Big Prize on a plate; the KRG has been trying to control Kirkuk by all means necessary since the 2003 Shock and Awe. In any future scenario Kirkuk would be the absolutely fabulous gas station fueling the wealth of a prosperous Kurdish nation. Baghdad is confronted with yet another quagmire.

It’s no secret in the “Middle East” that Tel Aviv and the Kurds have had a fruitful working relationship – in military, intel and business terms - since the 1960s. It’s a no brainer Israel would instantly recognize a possible new Kurdish nation-state. No wonder Israeli President Shimon Peres, also this week, told US President Barack Obama, “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.

Reuters / Azad Lashkari

At least they are not Arabs

So why this sudden interest in the welfare of Kurdish women? Something fishy is afoot. Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal is heavily peddling Kurdish independence. What is Tel Aviv really up to here?

The consensus narrative in Israeli media is that Kurdish independence is “good for Israel” because Kurds, well, they are not Arabs, Persians or Turks. Kurdistan – at least Iraqi Kurdistan – is seen by Tel Aviv as a “non-hostile entity” that, crucially, is not exactly touched by the plight of the Palestinians.

From a strictly Israeli point of view, Kurds are regarded as moderate, secular Muslims who have been victims – and that’s the key operative notion – of Arab chauvinism, be it on nationalist or hardcore Islamist terms. At least in theory, Kurds won’t antagonize the notion of “Jewish self-determination.”

And even more crucially, projecting ahead, a Greater Kurdistan would be the ideal buffer state acting in tandem with larger Israeli strategic interests; in one go, it would simultaneously amputate Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.

Even an independent Iraqi Kurdistan would be not only the proverbial “friend of Israel” but also a viable, prosperous state; Irbil, for instance, even though it is not Arab, wants to market itself as the Arab Capital of Tourism. And all this in a region Tel Aviv regards – paranoia included – as a basket case of failed states. What’s not to like?

Ankara’s double game

So expect from now on all sorts of made-in-the-shade moves by Israel to advance the Balkanization of Iraq into a Sunni state, a Shiite state and an Iraqi Kurdistan. There’s no question the KRG has been for all practical purposes independent since the First Gulf War in 1991 – boasting its own military (the Peshmerga) and now its own (Baghdad-contested) oil exports.

Yet the whole saga is also overloaded with myth – such as the supposedly irreconcilable gulf between Arabs and Kurds in Iraq. For nearly 10 years there has not been a single credible poll stating that the majority of Iraqi Kurds want independence. As much as there’s a yearning for independence, Kurds are also part of the government in Baghdad.

True, the KRG has brokered an uneasy truce between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). But the Kurdish question in both Syria and Turkey is way more complex. Syrian Kurds have been enjoying a much larger degree of autonomy after a deal with Damascus – although they have refrained, for the moment, from demanding an independent state in Syria. Iraqi Kurds are busy helping them – from experience – in their autonomous ways.

Iraqi Kurdish forces take position as they fight jihadist militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on June 29, 2014 in the Iraqi village of Bashir (Basheer), 20 kilometers south of the city of Kirkuk.(AFP Photo / Karim Sahib)

The Kurdish question has become increasingly explosive as the Empire of Chaos preferred Divide and Rule strategy of pitting Sunnis against Shi’ites has metamorphosed into the ISIS blitzkrieg. Disaffected young Kurds in Turkey – incited by Saudi religious rhetoric, weaponizing and cash – have been particularly attracted to the Syrian jihad. Funerals in predominant Kurdish areas across Anatolia for ISIS jihadis always draw large crowds – and are the perfect recruiting opportunity for ISIS operatives.

This is only happening because – as many Kurds insist – the AKP is looking the other way. Picture the scene of a jihadi free flow in the Turkish-Syrian border at a minimum tolerated by Ankara (because it is anti-Assad) – but with the added complicating factor that ISIS in Syria is also fighting Syrian Kurds. And a lot of ISIS weaponizing also comes straight from Turkey.

The Holy Grail for Ankara is to prevent by all means necessary Turkish Kurd demands for autonomy. Their only plan so far has been to blame Syrian Kurds for their links with the PKK.

All this happens within a booming trade scenario; over 70 percent of the annual, $12 billion trade between Iraq and Turkey circulates via Iraqi Kurdistan, where over 1,500 Turkish firms are in business. It’s a contradiction pile up: Ankara in theory supports the KRG, but would never dream of supporting more autonomous Syrian and Turkish Kurds.

What’s certain is that wishful thinking – from Tel Aviv to Washington – will keep permeating calculations about the Kurdish question, as in assuming Turkey will be allowed accession to the EU (it won’t) and thus Kurdistan will be the EU’s de facto eastern border. Bordering what? A Sunnistan across the Levant? Over the Pentagon’s collective dead body, of course.

What Big Oil in the US – and also Israel – sees, most of all, is the mirage of a Western-friendly major oil exporter in the long run. That’s why Balkanization sounds so juicy. This has nothing to do with the welfare of the historically wronged Kurdish people. It’s hardcore business. And yet another Divide and Rule power play. Expect plenty of hardcore moves ahead.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Comments (27)

 

Mike Pilgrim 21.07.2014 03:24

Israel's support of Kurds will backfire, dividing Arab states will result in an Islamic superstate. ISIL is evidence of this outcome. Kurds are equally vulnerable to the Islamic superstate as the same secular-islamist forces are at work in Kurd society. Kurd islamist sentiments are being held in check only because they seek western sympathy; that will rapidly evaporate upon gaining legitimacy. The longer Israel's oppression continues, the more violent the anti-Israeli backlash.

 

McAlly 11.07.2014 14:54

I wonder if the Kurds in Syria love Israel who, allegedly, has backed ISIS. They are now being attacked by this monster.

&q uot;Islamic militants using weapons they recently seized in neighboring Iraq intensified an offensive against Kurdish areas in northern Syria..."

 

Norberto Triemstra 10.07.2014 07:56

USA is interested in having STABILITY in Iraq to peacefully extract the OIL, for this reason they invaded in the very first place... but alas, Israel is interested in balkanizing Iraq and placing a pin on Turkey's chair by encouraging the Kurds....

View all comments (27)
Add comment

Authorization required for adding comments

Register or

Name

Password

Show password

Register

or Register

Request a new password

Send

or Register

To complete a registration check
your Email:

OK

or Register

A password has been sent to your email address

Edit profile

X

Name

New password

Retype new password

Current password

Save

Cancel

Follow us

Follow us