Israeli agents in Kurdistan
WASHINGTON – Israel operates hundreds of agents in the Kurdish areas in northern Iraq, according to a report published in the upcoming issue of The New Yorker magazine.
In an interview to CNN on Sunday, reporter Seymour Hersh said that hundreds of Israelis, some of them Mossad agents, are operating in the region in order to collect information on Iran’s nuclear program and monitor events in Syria.
According to the report, Israel in the past has had many ties with the Kurds, which with the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime are currently being renewed.
Israel is not confident of the success of the American program for the stabilization of the country, the report says, and that is why it is interested in setting up independent connections in the region.
Israelis operating in the region are also attempting to assist Kurds living in Syria, the report says.
My only comment at this time is that things are not looking bright for the Kurds if the Americans sell them out again. With the furor over the peshmerga involvement in the siege of Fallujah and general collaboration with the Americans during the invasion and now being linked as sponsors of Israeli spies, the tensions are certainly there for a clash between Arabs and the Kurdish minority. The fact that Kurds are now violently displacing Arab Iraqis from lands and homes stolen from them during the Saddam Arabization period is just more dry tinder on the pile awaiting a spark.
UPDATE: The Guardian has an interesting perspective on this story:
Israeli military and intelligence operatives are active in Kurdish areas of Iran, Syria and Iraq, providing training for commando units and running covert operations that could further destabilise the entire region, according to a report in the New Yorker magazine.
The article was written by Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who exposed the abuse scandal in Abu Ghraib. It is sourced primarily to unnamed former and current intelligence officials in Israel, the United States and Turkey.
Israel’s aims, according to Hersh, are to build up the Kurdish military strength in order to offset the strength of the Shia militias and to create a base in Iran from which they can spy on Iran’s suspected nuclear-making facilities.
“Israel has always supported the Kurds in a Machiavellian way – a balance against Saddam,” one former Israeli intelligence officer told the New Yorker. “It’s Realpolitik. By aligning with the Kurds Israel gains eyes and ears in Iran, Iraq and Syria. The critical question is ‘What will the behaviour of Iran be if there is an independent Kurdistan with close ties to Israel? Iran does not want an Israeli land-based aircraft carrier on its border.”
By supporting Kurdish separatists, Israel also risks alienating its Turkish ally and undermining attempts to create a stable Iraq. “If you end up with a divided Iraq it will bring more blood, tears and pain to the Middle East and you will be blamed,” a senior Turkish official told Mr Hersh.