For Is­rael, Kur­dish state­hood re­strains

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ED­WARD ROWE

MIL­LIONS OF Kurds voted for in­de­pen­dence from Iraq in a controversial ref­er­en­dum that united neigh­bour­ing coun­tries and the wider world — ex­cept Is­rael — in ve­he­ment op­po­si­tion.

More than three mil­lion peo­ple cast bal­lots in Mon­day’s vote cov­er­ing the Kur­dis­tan re­gion and other ter­ri­to­ries that the au­thor­i­ties dis­pute for con­trol with Iraq’s cen­tral gov­ern­ment in Bagh­dad, such as the oil-rich town of Kirkuk.

Other eth­nic groups in­clud­ing Arabs and Turk­mens called for boy­cotts, while neigh­bours Turkey and Iran mo­bilised forces close to their bor­ders with the Kur­dis­tan re­gion in a show of force.

“We con­sider the ref­er­en­dum, re­gard­less of out­come, null and void. We say it is il­le­gal,” Turk­ish pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan said in a speech in Istanbul on Mon­day.

But Is­rael has gone against the grain of in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion of the ref­er­en­dum,

Turkey’s Er­do­gan de­nounced the ref­er­en­dum di­verg­ing even from the United States’s op­po­si­tion. Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu has of­fered ex­plicit sup­port for what he called “the le­git­i­mate ef­forts of the Kur­dish peo­ple to achieve their own state.”

Most vot­ers — 92.73%, ac­cord­ing to pro­vi­sional fig­ures — su­ported se­ces­sion, but of­fi­cials said a dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence was not im­mi­nent. “It is the be­gin­ning of a strug­gle to­day in which we hope after a talk­ing process with Iraq, with our neigh­bours, friends and ri­vals, to be able to reach our na­tion’s ob­jec­tives, be able to ful­fill the dream that grew with us since child­hood,” said Qubad Tal­a­bani, the deputy prime min­is­ter of Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment.

Lo­cal news out­let Ru­daw an­nounced turnout was 72.16 per cent, with early re­sults point­ing to an over­whelm­ing vote in favour of in­de­pen­dence. An­a­lysts be­lieve Is­rael has much to gain strate­gi­cally from Kur­dish in­de­pen­dence and would par­tic­u­larly find com­fort in hav­ing a mil­i­tar­ily ef­fec­tive ally bor­der­ing Iran that would di­min­ish Tehran’s in­flu­ence over Iraq.

Iraqi Kurds waved the Kur­dish and Is­raeli flags in the north­ern city of Kirkuk after Mon­day night’s ref­er­en­dum

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