Mohamadi Gulpaigani, chief of staff to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Tuesday that, by attacking the Kurds in Iraq, Shiite militia guided by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) thwarted a joint Israeli-Kurdish-American plot to create a “second Israel.”
“The United States and Israel had plotted to create a second Israel in the Kurdistan Region, and it was shameful to wave the Israeli flag there, but the instructions of the Supreme Leader and the sacrifices of general Soleimani spoiled their plots, and Kirkuk was liberated without a single drop of blood being shed,” Gulpaigani declared.
Quoting Iranian news reports, the Kurdish Rudaw news service adds that Gulpaigani also effectively accused the Kurds of stealing Iraqi oil from the fields around Kirkuk and exporting it to Israel.
Iran’s accusations were likely motivated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration of “great sympathy” for the Kurds. He is one of the few world leaders to urge support from the international community for the Kurdish independence bid.
Netanyahu expressed support for the Kurds on Tuesday from a memorial ceremony for a long-dead Israeli official who, according to the prime minister’s account, conducted a secret mission to establish an Israeli field hospital in the Kurdish region of Iraq in the 1960s.
“The Kurds demonstrate national maturity and international maturity. We have very great sympathy for their desires and the world needs to concern itself with their safety and with their future,” said Netanyahu. The message and the ceremony at which he spoke doubtless irritated Tehran.
While Iran mutters about a second Israel springing from Kurdish soil, the U.S. is worried about a second Tehran setting up shop in Baghdad.
“What we would like to see in Iraq is a stable Iraq that is not aligned with Iran,” National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Wednesday, as quoted with keen interest by Rudaw.
McMaster warned that, while the United States wants to see a “strong Iraq,” Iran is “subverting Iraq” and trying to keep it “perpetually weak.”
He called the strategy Iran’s “Hezbollah model,” after the terrorist group in Lebanon, “where you have a weak government, a government that is deliberately weakened and a government that is reliant on Iran for support while Iran grows malicious and illegally arms groups that lie outside of that government’s control.” He cited Syria and Yemen as other examples of Iran’s Hezbollah model in action.