Middle East

Netanyahu calls for independent Kurdistan

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, June 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty, Pool)

TEL AVIV: Seizing on the mayhem in Iraq, Israel’s prime minister Sunday called for the establishment of an independent Kurdistan as part of a broader alliance with moderate forces across the region.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid out his positions in a policy speech that marked his most detailed response to the gains made by Sunni insurgents fighting in Iraq. His endorsement of Kurdish independence puts him at odds with prevailing international opinion.

In a speech to a Tel Aviv think tank, Netanyahu said the rise of both Al-Qaeda-backed Sunni extremists, as well as Iranian-backed Shiite forces, had created the opportunity for “enhanced regional cooperation.”

He said Jordan, which is facing a growing threat of spillover from conflict in neighboring Iraq and Syria and the Kurds, who control an oil-rich autonomous region of northern Iraq, should be bolstered.

The international community, including neighboring Turkey as well as the U.S. and other Western countries, oppose the breakup of Iraq.

However, an official from the ruling party in Turkey Friday was quoted by the Financial Times as saying his country was prepared to accept an independent Kurdish state.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 30, 2014, on page 8.




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