Pro-Iran parties in Iraq want to ban ‘Israel normalization’  - analysis

Since the creation of Israel, and even before, fascist, nationalist and religious far-right parties in the region have often used anti-Israel rhetoric as a way to come to power and maintain power.

  Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi attends the Baghdad summit in Baghdad, Iraq, August 28, 2021. (photo credit: IRAQI PRIME MINISTER MEDIA OFFICE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS/FILE PHOTO)
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi attends the Baghdad summit in Baghdad, Iraq, August 28, 2021.
(photo credit: IRAQI PRIME MINISTER MEDIA OFFICE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS/FILE PHOTO)

Iraq’s parliament, which can’t seem to form a government or decide on important, basic issues and is in dire need of investment, is wasting time focusing on Israel.

The reason for this is that in some areas in the Middle East, the use of Israel as a foil and tool is important because failed states and armed militias backed by Iran use scaremongering about the Jewish state as a way to distract from their looting of various countries.  

It is in this context that the Iraqi Council of Representatives wasted time on a draft law that would ban “normalization” with Israel. This is a largely mythical issue because few voices in Iraq are suggesting such a “normalization.” Iran has hijacked half of Iraq using pro-Iranian militias – and those groups are intensely hostile to Israel.

While there are some Iraqis who may look with more kindness on Israel, their voices are marginalized. In addition, when they have tried to express any interest in peace, they have been prosecuted, persecuted or hounded out of the country.  

The goal now of these anti-Israel activists in Iraq’s parliament is to pass a bill that would give the death penalty or life in prison for anyone who dared to even call for normalization with the Jewish state.

Members of the paramilitary Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) take part in their graduation ceremony at a military camp in Kerbala (credit: REUTERS/ABDULLAH DHIAA AL-DEEN)Members of the paramilitary Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) take part in their graduation ceremony at a military camp in Kerbala (credit: REUTERS/ABDULLAH DHIAA AL-DEEN)

“According to the bill, which was published by Iraq’s state media in Arabic, all Iraqi officials – including those in the northern Kurdistan region, government institutions, private sector companies and the media – are banned from establishing relations with Israel or promoting normalization,” notes the New Arab.  

The bill is supposedly backed by those close to the party led by Muqtada al-Sadr and also groups linked to Iran. The pro-Iranian Fatah Alliance has also backed this bill. The real story in Iraq is that these parties are likely trying to use the bill to pressure Kurdish parties in the northern autonomous Kurdistan region.

“This isn't to say Baghdad hasn't been under pressure to normalize with Israel – it has, not just externally but within, namely from the Kurdistan region, whose political elites have warm, yet well-established links with Israel," Middle East Monitor notes.

"Last year, at a conference organized by a US think-tank held in Erbil, over 300 tribal leaders called for normalization with Israel. However, this was swiftly condemned by Baghdad and arrest warrants were issued, [and] it was also branded an ‘illegal meeting’ by the federal government,” the media watchdog said." So the real story here is that some parties in Iraq want to draw attention to Israel, perhaps in order to undermine political opponents.  

OVERALL, THIS new law and bill may not pass and is likely just a distraction. Even if it does pass, it doesn’t really matter because some countries already have anti-Israel laws. These kinds of laws are used merely to bully and silence anyone who wants peace or coexistence.

The goal doesn't really have anything to do with Israel, but is about trying to legislate silence – because some of the groups that push Israel-obsessive activism know that average people don’t care about Israel: They care about how they are being impoverished at home.

Since before the creation of the Jewish state, fascist, nationalist and religious far-right parties in the region have often used anti-Israel rhetoric as a way to come to power and maintain it. They will claim that their lack of progress at home, even poverty and abuses, are all about “resisting” Israel.

Iran, for instance, uses the claim to “resist” Israel as a way to infiltrate militias into Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.

Anti-Israel activism is a cover for the drug trade in Syria, for the looting of Lebanon, and for other activities as well. Groups like the Houthis in Yemen have official slogans against Israel and Jews, part of an obsessive antisemitic worldview in the region that has for decades used hatred of Jews as a way to dominate.

Iraq’s parliament is a classic example of this, spending time on a bill about Israel while the country can’t even agree on basic things like a president and prime minister.