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 Israel would support independent Kurdistan: Analysts

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Israel would support independent Kurdistan: Analysts  1.5.2012  

May 1, 2012

ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — A number of Israeli political experts say Israel will be among the countries that would support Iraqi Kurdistan if it declared independence. They also suggest that Kurdistan not make the decision hastily and ensure the grounds are properly prepared first, Rudaw reported.

Following remarks by Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani earlier this month, independence has become a topic of serious debate in Kurdish and regional circles. Barzani threatened that Kurds would declare independence if Baghdad reneged on its agreements regarding oil, territory and power-sharing between the central and Kurdish governments.

Ofra Bengio, a political researcher at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, published a book last week titled "The Kurds of Iraq: Building a State Within a State." She also wrote an article in the Jerusalem Post considering whether Barzani would declare independence and discussing the difficulties involved in the decision.

"Approaching the issue of independence, Barzani is on a horn of a dilemma,” the article reads. “On the one hand, it seems that the Kurds are facing the best window of opportunity for such a move. On the other hand, the formidable obstacles also seem to have gained momentum."

The article mentions a statement from the London-based newspaper Al-Hayat which claims that David Howell Petraeus, current director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), requested Ankara throw its support behind Iraqi Kurds should they declare independence.

Alon Ben-Meir, an Israeli peace negotiator and professor of International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies at New York University, says Israel will have no problems if Kurdistan declares independence; it will even support such a decision.

"No doubt Israel will support the independence of Kurdistan and probably be among the first countries to recognize the independence of Kurdistan, because Israel will not worry about the reaction of Turkey due to the strong ties between Ankara and the Kurdistan Region," says Ben-Meir.

But Bengio recommends that Kurdistan prepare the infrastructure of a state before announcing independence, and then wait for the right moment to take that course of action.

"Examining the situation on the ground, one can only repeat what every observer who has visited the area says: Kurdistan has all the trappings of a state. In fact, in certain areas, it seems even more cohesive and developed than the Palestinian Authority or South Sudan," says Bengio’s article.

"Against this there are some daunting obstacles, including the Kurds’ commitment in the Iraqi constitution to a federal state, the economic and political dependence on Baghdad and the fear of antagonizing neighboring states, especially Turkey, which has become the KRG’s lifeline to the outside world and its most important economic and trade partner," adds Bengio.

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