(JNS.org) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been reportedly lobbying world leaders to support the Iraqi Kurds, who are losing territory to Iraq’s government.
Israeli officials have said Netanyahu “raised the Iraqi Kurds’ plight in phone calls with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week and with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday,” Reuters reported.
The report added that the issue has also come up in communication with France, and that Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat has been discussing the Kurds with the Trump administration.
“The issue at present is...to prevent an attack on the Kurds, extermination of the Kurds and any harm to them, their autonomy and region, something that Turkey and Iran and internal Shi’ite and other powers in Iraq and part of the Iraqi government want,” Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz told the Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM Friday.
This week, Iraqi forces retook the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which had been under the control of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces since 2014. The Iraqi government has refused to recognize or negotiate with the Kurdish Regional Government since its independence vote in September.
Netanyahu was the only world leader to publicly endorse Kurdish statehood ahead of its referendum. Israel “supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve their own state,” the prime minister said last month.
Although Israel has official relations with just three Mideast countries—Turkey, Jordan and Egypt—it has long had warm relations with Iraq’s Kurds, who are Sunni Muslims, and views the Kurds as a strategic partner against Islamic extremism and Iranian aggression.