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Netanyahu: Kurds Deserve Independence

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his support for Kurdish independence yesterday in a speech at the Institute of National Security Studies (INSS).

Netanyahu made the remarks within the context of the need to ally with moderates in the region to repel threats from extremist groups.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

He said Israel must back efforts to support Jordan, which borders both Syria and Iraq, so that the insurgency doesn’t spread there.

“It is upon us to support the international efforts to strengthen Jordan, and support the Kurds’ aspiration for independence,” Netanyahu said. The Kurds, he said, are a “fighting people that have proven political commitment and political moderation, and they’re also worthy of their own political independence.

Last week, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told Secretary of State John Kerry, “”Iraq is breaking up before our eyes and it would appear that the creation of an independent Kurdish state is a foregone conclusion.”

The Times observes that though Israel has maintained discreet ties with the Kurds, “[t]his is the first time the government has openly called for Kurdish independence.”

Iran’s state-run Press TV reports that Kurdish leaders welcomed Netanyahu’s support.

A complete video of Netanyahu’s remarks with a simultaneous English translation is here. Embedded below is Netanyahu’s argument in Hebrew that “after the departure of Western forces it is impossible to count on the local forces that have been trained by the West to restrain the Islamists.”

Netanyahu also gave an English interview to France24 yesterday in which he addressed the security threats Israel faces. Though Netanyahu touched on much of the substance he spoke about at INSS, the issue of Kurdish independence did not come up.

In Say it Again. Kurdish Independence Now, which appeared in the September 2013 issue of The Tower Magazine, Jonathan Spyer observed that refugees fleeing the “chaos and meltdown” in Syria and Iraq are streaming into Kurdistan because “[g]enerally speaking, where the Kurds are in control, things stay quiet.”

[Photo: U. S. Navy Photo / WikiCommons ]