by Ofra Bengio | March 18, 2016
Over the past few years, Israeli politicians—from Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to President Shimon Peres to Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman—have been publicly advocating the establishment of a Kurdish state. Most recent to weigh in is Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who called this past January for the formation of an independent Kurdistan and urged enhanced policy cooperation between Israel and the Kurds.
Clearly, the upheavals in the region and the realization that the Kurds are the most effective military power against the onslaught of the Islamic State triggered these calls. But Israelis have long been interested in the Kurds as junior partners in Ben-Gurion’s hallowed peripheral strategy, which considered any competitor or adversary of the Arabs an objective ally of the Jewish state, whether sub-state groups like the Kurds or nations such as Turkey, Iran (in earlier times and perhaps again in the future), and Ethiopia. But even beyond this general motive lies layers of relationships between the Jewish and Kurdish people that go back many centuries. To understand how the future may unfold, grasping at least the recent past must serve as prelude.
The ties between Israel and the Kurds are complex and shrouded in mystery. Relations are always more complex when they are asymmetrical, as in this case, where they are between a state and non-state actors. Note that we must say actors, plural, because Israel has to deal separately with four Kurdish players in four countries that host Kurdish communities and political organizations: Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Complicating the picture still further is the fact that each of the four groups has a different political agenda, a different approach toward Israel, and different geostrategic calculations within its respective state (or what’s left of two of them) and in the region as a whole. (Read More)
Read the full article at The American Interest