Idan Ofer (left) with father Sam Ofer
Idan Ofer (left) with father Sam OferIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Israel Corp. Chairman Idan Ofer visited Iraq last month, according to the French website JSS news. Ofer is reportedly weighing a secret project to build an oil refinery in the city of Kirkuk in the north of the country.

The project would be carried out in cooperation with European businessmen.

Israel Corporation Ltd. (“Israel Corp.”) is one of Israel’s largest holdings companies. Its main holdings are in industries that meet human, industrial and economic needs: fertilizers and specialty chemicals, energy, shipping and transportation.

During his visit, Ofer met with Kurdish leaders, including Kurdish Vice President Kosrat Rasul. Kirkuk is in a primarily Kurdish region, and according to the JSS report, “Kurdish sources expressed great interest at the possibility of Israeli involvement in the region, especially against the background of the cooling of relations between Turkey and Israel.”

Israel helped the Iraqi Kurds in their ongoing struggle for independence during the days of Saddam Hussein, but has not been involved in the Turkish Kurds' battle for self government.

Until recently, Israel and Turkey shared military and economic ties; however, relations have been strained since Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power and decided to strengthen the once secular country's ties to the Islamic world. The Gaza flotilla was supported and aided by Turkey's Prime Minister. 

Israel was recently accused of providing support to Kurdish rebels in Turkey, but denies involvement. The United States has stated publicly that it sides with Turkey in the conflict.