'Israel in Iraq': Kurdish Referendum Blasted by Iraqi Papers

One Baghdad resident describes the referendum as 'a black day in the history of the Kurds,' adding that the group is 'trying to make an Israeli state' in Iraq

A woman casts her vote during the Kurdish independence referendum in Kirkuk, Iraq, September 25, 2017.
AKO RASHEED/REUTERS

In Baghdad, residents have strongly criticized the Iraqi Kurds' independence referendum, saying it would raise sectarian tensions and create an "Israel in Iraq."

An Arabic newspaper headline on Monday said "Kurdistan into the unknown," a reference to the name Kurds use for their region.

>> Follow live updates from the Kurdish referendum ■ Explained: Who are the Kurds and why are they seeking independence? >>

Journalist Raad Mohammad said the vote represents a "division of Iraq," and added that it was "unacceptable for the Iraqi people as well as many other countries."

Another Baghdad resident, Ali al-Rubayah, described the referendum as a "black day in the history of the Kurds," adding that "today, the Kurds are trying to make an Israeli state in the north of Iraq."

Lawyer Tariq al-Zubaydi said the referendum was inappropriate amid the "ongoing threat of terrorism and Islamic State" and that a "unified country is better for all."

>> Read more: Dreaming of independence, Iraqi Kurds reach out to Jews and Israel for support ■ Netanyahu, sole leader to endorse independent Kurdistan, hits back at Erdogan for supporting Hamas ■ Israeli minister: Independent Kurdistan would benefit Israel and the West >>

Last week, Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki told U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Sliman that his country “will not allow the creation of a second Israel in northern Iraq," in a reference to the Kurdish referendum. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared his support for the referendum, describing it as "the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve a state of their own." 

Netanyahu's support makes Israel the only country to support the establishment of an independent Kurdistan.

Israel has maintained discreet military, intelligence and business ties with the Kurds since the 1960s, viewing the minority ethnic group – whose indigenous population is split between Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran – as a buffer against shared Arab adversaries.