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Kurdistan’s Secret Ties with Israel

Al-Arabiya, Saudi Arabia, Originally posted in Arabic on August 30

The Financial Times reported last week that roughly 77 percent of Israel’s oil is imported from Kurdistan, via Turkey.

This means that Turkey “hosts” one annual flotilla provocation in Gaza, while providing the Israeli authorities with thousands of oil barrels on a daily basis. Diplomatic hypocrisy at its finest: Ankara rejects the normalization of its relations with Israel, while maintaining close economic ties with it behind the world’s eyes.

This also raises the issue of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Kurds in the Middle East have been historically mistreated by their Arab neighbors. Rather than embracing the Kurds, Arab societies rejected them from their midst and deprived them of equal opportunities and rights.

But I am not bringing this up in order to justify the Kurdish oil sales. Quite contrary. It is no secret that the Israeli financial presence in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, has been growing bigger and bigger in recent years. True, the Kurds have every right to maintain a special relationship with the West – as they have done with the Soviets in the past.

But at the same time, they cannot ignore the interests of their fellow Arabs – no matter how difficult their shared past is. The Kurds of Iraq and Syria must remember that our region is volatile and ever changing. Regimes rise and fall and countries disseminate into ashes. Today the Kurds, with their customers in the West, have the upper hand, but this will not always be the case. Grudge has been building up for years, and sectarian tensions will not disappear overnight. When all is said and done, we will all be held accountable for our alliances and actions.

Turkey cannot call for solidarity with Gaza while providing the Israelis with oil. The Kurds cannot expect to establish peaceful ties with neighbors, while ignoring their political and national interests.  – Samir Atallah