Saturday, December 03, 2005

Israelis Trained Kurds In Iraq

Thanks to Papa Ray for leaving this for me:

Exclusive: A number of Israeli companies have won contracts with the Kurdish government in northern Iraq to train and equip Kurdish security forces and build an international airport, Yedioth Ahronoth reports; al-Qaeda warning of attack prompts hasty exit of all Israeli instructors from region.

Dozens of Israelis with a background in elite military combat training have been working for private Israeli companies in northern Iraq where they helped the Kurds establish elite anti-terror units, Israel’s leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronot revealed Thursday.

According to the report, the Kurdish government contracted Israeli security and communications companies to train Kurdish security forces and provide them with advanced equipment.

Motorola Inc. and Magalcom Communications and Computers won contracts with the Kurdish government to the tune of hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars.

The flagship of the contracts is the construction of an international airport in the northern Kurdish city of Ibril, a stepping stone towards the fulfillment of Kurdish national aspirations for independence.

In addition to Motorola and Magalcom, a company owned by Israeli entrepreneur Shlomi Michaels is in full business partnership with the Kurdish government, providing strategic consultation on economic and security issues.

The strategic consultation company was initially established by former Mossad chief Danny Yatom (Labor) and Michaels, yet Yatom sold his shares upon his election to the Knesset.

But that’s not all. Leading Israeli companies in the field of security and counter-terrorism have set up a training camp under the codename Z at a secret location in a desertic region in northern Iraq, where Israeli experts provide training in live fire exercises and self-defense to Kurdish security forces.

Al-Qaeda warning prompts hasty Israeli exit

Tons of equipment, including motorcycles, tractors, sniffer dogs, systems to upgrade Kalashnikov rifles, and bulletproof vests, have been shipped to Iraq’s northern region, with most products stamped ‘Made in Israel.’

The Israeli instructors entered Iraq through Turkey using their Israeli passports, undercover as agriculture experts and infrastructure engineers.

The Kurds had insisted the cooperation projects were kept secret, fearing exposure would motivate terror groups to target their Jewish guests.

Recent warnings that al-Qaeda may plan an attack on Kurdish training camps, prompted a hasty exit of all Israeli trainers from Iraq’s northern Kurdish regions.

The Defense Ministry said in response to the report that, “We haven’t allowed Israelis to work in Iraq, and each activity, if performed, was a private initiative, without our authorization, and is under the responsibility of the employers and the employees involved."

Even though the Al Qaeda warning has halted business for now, this is very good news. The wall that has prevented Arab-Israeli cooperation seems to be crumbling, slowly but surely. Israel now has better relationships with Pakistan also.

If people can cooperate in business, they can slowly learn to cooperate politically. Heck, maybe even become friends.

Papa Ray noted, in his comment to me, that this will mean that many Shiites and Sunnis are now going to want to kill the Kurds all the more.

We'll see.