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Iran-Backed Groups, Iraq Officials Slam Call For Normalization With Israel

Several Iran-backed Iraqi militia groups have condemned calls in an Iraqi-Kurdish conference of tribal leaders for normalization of relations with Israel while the Iraqi presidency in a statement reaffirmed its rejected the call.

“The Islamic opposition will not remain quiet about this great betrayal, and we will give the Israeli enemy and those who have normalized ties with them a lesson that will stop all who think of normalization,” Qais al-Khazali, the secretary-general of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, said in a statement Saturday.

More than 300 Iraqi tribal leaders and other figures including both Sunnis and Shiites in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan on Saturday called for Iraq to join the "Abraham Accords", a US-sponsored process that led to the normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan last year. The conference was organized by the US think-thank Center for Peace Communications (CPC).

“We demand our integration into the Abraham Accords,” AFP quoted Sahar al-Tai, one of the attendees, as saying, who read the closing statement of the conference. “Just as these agreements provide for diplomatic relations between the signatories and Israel, we also want normal relations with Israel,” she said.

The Kurdistan Regional Government's interior ministry in a statement Saturday said the meeting had been organized and held without its knowledge and participation and did not "reflect its stance" in any way and demanded the Kurdistan Regional Government for a clear stance and action on the matter. "

Iran has not officially commented on the issue.

Calling the demand for normalization with Israel a "disgraceful and offensive act", Al-Khazali said the Kurdistan Regional Government's "statement of lack of awareness [of the event]" was not enough." Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr also condemned the conference and demanded the arrest of all those who participated. Akhbar al-Yaum, a Lebanese social media news agency, claimed Sunday that the Supreme Judicial Council of Iraq has issued arrest warrants for participants in the conference.

“The Presidency of the Republic affirms Iraq's firm position and support for the Palestinian cause and the implementation of the full legitimate rights of the Palestinian people," read a statement from the Presidency’s spokesperson.

The statement said the Presidency renews the country's "categorical rejection of the issue of normalization with Israel" and added that the meeting did not “represent the people, but rather the positions of those who participated in it."

The Iraqi premier Mustafa Al-Kadhimi in a statement Saturday called the meeting “illegal,” saying that normalization is “constitutionally, legally, and politically rejected in the Iraqi state.”

Israel has good diplomatic and economic relations with the Kurdistan Regional Government but the federal government in Baghdad does not have diplomatic ties with the Jewish state. Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly backed the Iraqi Kurdistan's call for an independence referendum in 2017.


A British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National and journalist at Iran International
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