On September the 25th of this year, Kurds in northern Iraq are to hold a referendum on secession from Iraq. Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of States has recently come forward asking the Kurds to postpone the referendum. Today, Russia came out joining the US in calls to postpone the referendum while saying that Moscow would oppose any measures which harm Iraq’s territorial integrity, including Kurdish separatism. Russia has encouraged local Kurdish leaders to engage in constructive dialogue with Baghdad in order to find a compromise solution that rejects separatism.
It is well known that all the countries of the region including Turkey, Iran and Syria are opposed to Kurdish separatism in Iraq as they oppose such moves in their own countries.
Today, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put himself at odds with the rest of the international and regional community when he declared his support for Kurdish separatism.
The Jerusalem Post reports that Netanyahu spoke before a group of American Congressmen where he advocated for the creation of a Kurdish state in what is now northern Iraq. He then called the Kurds, “brave, pro-Western people who share our values”. This phrase was doubtlessly employed in order to appeal to his US audience.
This not only puts Israel at odd with countries it is already at odds with (Iran, Iraq, Syria), but also puts Israel at odds with Turkey, a traditional ally of sorts to Tel Aviv. With both the United States and Russia calling for restraint, Netanyahu has decided to lay his cards on the table as Israel has long had links with Kurdish militants in Arab states.
The move will be popular among certain Kurds but will further isolate Israel from countries in the region, this is after all one of the reasons why many in Tel Aviv are anxious to help bring about a new state in the Middle East that would be a rare Israeli ally.