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Iraqi groups denounce 'treacherous' event on normalization with Israel

The New York-based Center for Peace Communications hosts a conference on September 24, 2021 in Iraq’s Erbil, where participants allegedly called for full normalization with Israel. (Photo by AFP)

Iraqi groups and top figures have firmly rejected a Friday gathering in the country’s Kurdistan region with the aim of pushing for full normalization with Israel, saying such treacherous acts run counter to the nation’s historical positions in support of the Palestinian cause.

More than 300 Iraqi men and women attended a conference in a hotel in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region, during which they demanded that Baghdad join the so-called Abraham Accords and normalize relations with Israel.

The Abraham Accords were signed at the White House in September 2020 between Israel, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. Morocco and Sudan later signed normalization agreements with the Israeli regime as well.

The Friday conference was organized by the New York-based Center for Peace Communications, and was welcomed by Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid as “a hopeful event.”

However, the Sons of Iraq Awakening Movement (al-Sahwa) denied supporting or joining the gathering soon after a statement was released, citing the group among the participants.

“Based on our ethical commitment and responsibility, we announce that they do not represent anyone, and they are not allowed to exploit tribal or regional personnel to take a position,” leader of the movement, Ahmed Abu Risha, said.

Barham Salih, Iraq’s president, dismissed any attempt to normalize ties with Israel and reaffirmed Baghdad’s support for the Palestinian cause.

“The Iraqi presidency strongly rejects the normalization of relations with Israel and calls for respect for the will of the Iraqi people and their national and independent decision,” Salih said.

The head of the National Approach bloc also condemned and strongly rejected the invitation to attend the conference, and called for the prosecution of those who call for normalization with Israel.

“Iraqi law criminalizes these treacherous actions against the principles of the Iraqis, and… these actions are also against the Iraqis’ historical positions in support of the Palestinian cause and combating Zionist arrogance and its extreme criminality,” Ammar Tohme said.

Tohme called on “the Iraqi government, parliament, national political forces, social activities, and Arab tribes to adopt a united and courageous position in condemning and rejecting these malicious plans.”

Ammar al-Hakim, an Iraqi Shia cleric and head of the National Wisdom Movement (Hikma), denounced the gathering.

“We reject and condemn meetings, rallies and calls in Iraq for the normalization of relations with the occupying Zionist regime,” al-Hakim said in a statement.

He stressed that the Palestinian cause is the first issue of Arabs and Muslims, reaffirming full support for the Palestinian people and their struggle to reclaim their rights.

Iraq’s influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr urged Erbil to prevent such “terrorist-Zionist gatherings, otherwise, the Iraqi government must declare the conference’s participants as criminals and arrest them.”

In a tweet, al-Sadr also warned that if Erbil does not prevent such meetings, “we will take the actions that we are religiously, intellectually and nationally responsible for.”

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