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The Kurds may well have ‘no friends but the mountains’, but they do have Israel

18 24 0
21.10.2019

There is an old saying that “the Kurds have no friends but the mountains”. Poetic, poignant and tragic; but not quite true. Despite the mainstream Western media lamenting the latest “betrayal” of Kurdish allies by the US government, there has been one ally who has had a consistent relationship with the Kurds: Israel.

A day after Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on 9 October, following reports of US President Donald Trump announcing a withdrawal of US troops from north-eastern Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “strongly condemned” the Turkish invasion against the “gallant Kurdish people” and warned of ethnic cleansing. Netanyahu also said that Israel was prepared to extend humanitarian aid to the Kurds. However, as Haaretz has noted, there has been a deafening silence from Netanyahu about Trump effectively abandoning the Kurds to their fate at the hands of the second largest army in NATO.

READ: Use of banned weapons surface in Turkey offensive

The relationship between the Kurds and Israel is no mystery. Ties between the two go back to the 1960s, with Israel providing military and humanitarian aid until 1975. The arrangement ended abruptly after the accord signed between Iraq and pre-Islamic Republic Iran, following the latter’s support for Iraqi-Kurdish separatists under the pro-West Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who also enjoyed close ties with Israel. Relations resumed discretely thereafter, becoming more prominent following the US invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, in the form of an Israeli base used to facilitate the training of Kurds; Israel had a strategic interest in supporting Kurdish forces, as a counterweight to Sunni and Shia groups in Iraq. Involvement in the region also gave Israel better access to intelligence from Syria and Iran. Iraqi Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani once said of Israel, “There is no other country to which we Kurds owe so much.” He also told an Israeli emissary that “only the Jews cared about the Kurds.”

In his prison journal, the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan says that it was Israel’s Mossad that “built........

© Middle East Monitor