Erbil/ Mariwan Faydullah Salihi
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, will offer US$100 thousand to anyone who could find an Israeli in Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
During a press conference on the 19th of August, 2009, he denied the presence of any Israeli in Kurdistan. “I offer US$ 100,000 to anyone who could find an Israeli in the region”, he said.
Head of Kurdistan Region Presidency Diwan, Fouad Hussein, said that they are not aware of any Israeli organization in Kurdistan.
The statements came after the office of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri Al-Maliki, released a communiqué stating that the office receives reports every now and then over the presence of Israeli organizations and figures working in Kurdistan.
The communiqué also stated that the Iraqi government will investigate those reports.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) head of Foreign Relations Department, Falah Mustafa, also denied any presence of Israelis in the region. He said the region follows the same Iraqi policy. He added, “Such allegations serve no one in Iraq and they are all baseless speeches.”
While typing the words “Kurdistan”, “Iraq” and “Israel” on website Youtube.com, many videos are found about Israelis visiting the region openly. It includes Israeli Jewish religious men, called “hacham” in Hebrew, visiting the city of Duhok in Iraqi Kurdistan for a program on Israeli TV. Some of the visitors to the region also include Israeli Jews of Iraqi or Kurdish origins. They visit the villages and cities of their ancestors.
In June, 2004, famous American investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh, published an article in New Yorker magazine stating numerous sources, including Israeli, revealing their relations with Iraqi Kurds.
Hersh reported that the Israelis were training Kurdish commandos and supplying them with advanced military equipment. In their turn, the Israelis seek to use Iraqi Kurdistan as a platform to spy on Syria and Iran, and, in particular, monitor Iran’s nuclear facilities.