Turkish Offensive against Kurds
Photo via wikimedia.org

When Turkey launched its offensive against Kurd-administered areas of Northern Syria, it attracted sharp criticism from the world. The international community raised the concern on Operation peace spring amid expected civilian deaths and chaos in an already volatile region. Israel also raised serious concerns about Turkey’s hegemonic designs in the region. This article answers the question “Why Israel Supports Kurds?”. 

After a few days of Operation Peace Spring, the Israeli population unanimously condemned the Turkish offensive against Kurds. Israel’s political elite, military establishment and media outlets joined hands in condemning the Turkish attack. Israeli hardliners also started telling about “evergreen Kurd-Jews relations”. Israeli media also demanded the world to take immediate action against Turkey. On social media #FreeKurdistan remained the top trend in Israel. People demanded the world for the creation of an independent Kurd state comprising of areas in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria. Moreover, Israeli military reservists signed a recommendary petition asking the Israeli government to send the military to support Kurds. Here it must be noted that Israel is a supporter of a Kurdish state in the region. 

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the Turkish offensive against Kurds. He further offered “humanitarian aid” for Kurds. Chairperson of the New Right Party Ayelet Shaked also condemned Turkey. 

Here we will look at what is behind Israel’s support for Kurds. American withdrawal or downsizing the troops in Syria will place Russia at a higher position in the country. Russia is a natural ally of Iran. Israel fears that Russia will offer Iran to play more role in Syria. Iran’s involvement in Syria will allow Iran to transfer weapons via Iraq and Syria to Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Israel considers Hezbollah as a potential threat to Israel. In the past, Israel has suffered severe losses caused by Hezbollah in 2006’s Lebanon war. 

Israel has targeted Syria’s military facilities many times in the Syria war. However, concluding such an attack after Russia’s hegemony will not be an easy task for Israel. 

Moreover, Kurdish withdrawal from Northeastern Syria will help Turkey to strengthen its position in Syria. Turkey has always been a supporter of Hamas and the Palestinian struggle. Therefore Israel considers Turkish domination in Syria as a potential threat. Furthermore, in Turkey’s presence, Israel will be unable to operate in this strategically important area near the Iranian border. 

Now Israel believes that while the US has abandoned Kurds, it can also leave Israel in difficult hours. Israel is questioning American reliability. Israel believes that when everything fails, the US will come for Israeli rescue. However, US withdrawal from Syria caused serious reservations in Israel. Israeli military experts opine that what happened to Kurds now can happen to Israel one day. 

However, some experts deny this idea. They argue that US-Israel relations cannot be compared with US-Kurd relations. The US has always termed Israel as a potential ally in the Middle East, believing its security is in the US’ interest. The Israeli lobby in the USA is also strengthening every passing day. Furthermore, the US military establishment and intelligence still supports Israel. 

But now the US has a president of different nature. He follows his ideology. Despite receiving warnings from US security institutions, he opted to abandon Kurds. He believes that the US should not involve its military in wars that have nothing to do with the USA. President Trump is right in his approach. However, Israel fears that Trump can do the same with Israel in the future. 

Israeli fears started when the US blamed Iran for attacks on Saudi oil facilities. The US also threatened military action against Iran, but nothing happened. After the US’ neutrality on Saudi Oil attacks, the Kingdom realized that it could no longer trust the USA as a defense partner. Now Saudi Arabia started softening its stance towards Iran and showed consent to ease tensions with Iran under Pakistani Premier Imran Khan’s mediation. 

After the US abandoned Kurds and Saudis, Israeli policymakers started thinking to bring changes in Israel’s foreign policy. Israeli foreign policy experts opine that Israel should devise its foreign policy based on its national interest. The new foreign policy should not be entirely dependent on the USA. Israel will have to find new strategic and regional partners. 

Moreover, Netanyahu’s entire election campaign was based on strengthening relations with the USA. But after the public pressure, he was forced to distance himself from the US role in Syria. However, he still avoided blaming Trump in his statement criticizing the Turkish offensive against Kurds. 


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