Lawmakers in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region have welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for the creation of an independent Kurdish state.
Mardan Khadr Zebary, a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (PDK), thanked Netanyahu on Sunday, saying the Kurdistan region and Israel face the same enemies.
Bayar Tahir Dosky, also from the PDK, said the Israeli premier’s call made them happy, as he tried to “support us and give the Kurds and Kurdistan their rights.”
Earlier on Sunday, Netanyahu had said in a statement that, “We should… support the Kurdish aspiration for independence.
Earlier in the day, Kurdish Peshmerga forces seized heavy weapons and military equipment in Kirkuk governorate, claiming it as part of their own territory.
On Friday, Masoud Barzani, the president of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), said that the KRG will not return oil-rich Kirkuk to Baghdad.
Kurdish forces took control of Kirkuk after Iraqi troops entered a battle with the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) earlier this month.
Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has recently said Baghdad’s air and ground forces will turn the tide against the ISIL and its associated militant groups within days. Al-Maliki has vowed that the country’s security forces would confront the foreign-sponsored militants.
The latest developments come as tensions have been ratcheted up between Kurdistan’s regional leaders and the central government in Baghdad. The Iraqi government has repeatedly slammed the Kurdistan region for exporting oil without Baghdad’s consent. Baghdad says it has the sole right to export the country’s crude, but the Kurds say they are entitled to market the resources of their own region.