The Push for Normalization of Iraq’s Relations With Israel Just Backfired

The Push for Normalization of Iraq’s Relations With Israel Just Backfired
Protesters chant slogans while burning representations of Israeli flags during a demonstration in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq, May 15, 2021 (AP photo by Khalid Mohammed).

Remember that astroturf conference back in September 2021, when a group of Iraqis gathered in Erbil supposedly to promote the normalization of diplomatic relations with Israel?

No sooner had the conference concluded than most of the participants quickly disavowed it. Many claimed they had been misled about the purpose of the gathering, which was purportedly convened to discuss Iraqi reconciliation—not Israel. Some of the participants were threatened with prosecution under Iraq’s 1969 law against normalization of ties with Israel, although none has been formally charged.

Shortly after the conference was held, I warned in this newsletter that it was mostly a stunt that distracted from more pressing crises and could empower hardliners in Iraq and the wider Middle East, as well as in Washington.

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