Does Israel really support the illegal referendum held In Iraqi Kurdistan? Does Israel really support Kurds declaring an independent state in northern Iraq?
The answer lies in a recent order from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who asked his administration officials to remain silent on the referendum held in Iraqi Kurdistan on Monday.
So why did Netanyahu recently say that he favors Kurdish independence in Iraq? Since that day, Iraqi Kurds have been boating that Israel supports them, and when people in Irbil took to the streets on Monday they were seen waving Israeli flags.
Israel is deeply concerned about Iran gaining strength in the region and we are told by Israeli sources that Netanyahu is motivated by the threat of Iran when he makes statements regarding the region. The fact that Iran has not given up on its threat to destroy Israel by the year 2029 has left the Israelis from left to right anxious.
Israel is angry that the U.S. could not hang onto Iraq and handed the country to Iran, with Tehran now calling the shots on how affairs are run in Baghdad. With Iran gaining the upper hand in Iraq and the fact that strong Shiite militia groups like Hashd al-Shaabi have emerged is a source of concern for Israel. They remember well the days when Saddam Hussein could fire his Scud missiles against Israel during the first Gulf War and thus realize that with Iran calling the shots, Scud missiles could well be replaced by much more effective and accurate Iranian missiles that could hit the heart of the Jewish state.
Added to this is the presence of Iran in Syria just at Israel's doorstep, which creates nightmares for ordinary Israelis, let alone Netanyahu.
So when Iraqi Kurds declared that they want an independent state, Netanyahu sees it as an opportunity to create a headache for Iran, so he says he supports Kurdish independence in Iraq.
But it is clear that his security and intelligence apparatus has shown him that Kurdish independence in Iraq is not only an issue that will create problems for Iran but will have much deeper repercussions for the whole region and could further destabilize the Middle East beyond what Netanyahu bargained for, creating problems for Israel.
Israel's role in Iraqi Kurdistan has been exaggerated and blown out of proportion. In essence, all the stories that Israel has a notable presence in Iraqi Kurdistan perpetuate a myth. Like all other intelligence organizations, Mossad of course would have a presence in the region where spies from all other countries are running amok. Yet stories that Israel is training the Kurdish peshmerga forces and Israeli military support are all wishful thinking.
So Iraqi Kurds, who took this extremely dangerous step of staging an illegal referendum and who now threaten to declare independence, are making an extremely wrong calculation by depending on Israel. They should be more concerned on angering Iran and attracting the wrath of Tehran. They should also be more concerned of losing Turkey's friendship in general and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's friendship in particular. That is why the Israeli intelligence and security apparatus has urged Netanyahu to tone down his language on Iraqi Kurdistan.