Israeli politician calls on U.S. to support Kurdistan independence plan

12 June 2017 – Jerusalem Post –  Former Israeli interior minister and Benjamin Netanyahu’s former No. 2 in Likud, Gideon Sa’ar, called for Israel and the United States Sunday to play key roles in advancing Kurdish independence planned to be put into a vote in September 25.Sa’ar told The Jerusalem Post that “although the Kurds already rule northern Iraq, their goal is independence de jure.”“Israel should recognize Kurdistan and try to persuade the US to welcome a state for the Kurds as well,” Sa’ar said.

“We Jews, like the Kurds, are a minority in the Middle East.They have proven themselves over decades to be a reliable strategic partner for us.”

Sa’ar said he believed Barzani was taking this step because he believes it can succeed with the US led by President Donald Trump.Sa’ar met two months ago in Israel with adviser to Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP leader Massoud Barzani. A former member of the security cabinet, he wrote extensively about regional issues, including the Kurds, at the Institute for National Security Studies during his time-out from politics that ended in April.He estimated that the referendum would pass and said the world’s reaction would determine whether a state of Kurdistan would be formed.Iraqi Kurdish leaders announced on June 7 that they will organise an independence referendum on September 25, not only in their three-province autonomous region but also in other historically Kurdish-majority areas they have long sought to incorporate in it.

Baghdad’s Shi’ite-led government has rejected any move by the mostly Sunni Kurds to press unilaterally for independence, insisting that any decision about the future of the country should involve all its other parts.Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s political parties, not including the Change Movement (Gorran) and the Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG) came to an agreement on June 7, 2017 to hold the referendum on the region’s independence this year on September 25.

The U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters last week that “The United States supports a unified, federal, stable and democratic Iraq,”“We have expressed our concerns to authorities in the Kurdistan Region that holding a referendum — even this non-binding resolution — at this time will distract from more urgent priorities,” Nauert said.Iran voiced its opposition on Saturday to an announcement by Iraqi Kurdistan region that it will organise a vote on independence. “Iran’s principal position is to support the territorial integrity of Iraq,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said.

The federal government in Baghdad is deeply opposed to the referendum plan of the regional government in Erbil, as is neighbouring Turkey, which has a large and restive Kurdish minority of its own. Washington has expressed concern that it could distract from the joint fight against the Islamic State group by stoking tensions between the Kurds, and Arabs and Turkmen in northern Iraq.