By Mustafa Saadoun for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Former Iraqi premier opens up about PMU, new PM, Iran

Al-Monitor’s correspondent in Iraq interviewed former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi at his family residence within the Green Zone in the capital Baghdad.

There, he holds meetings of the Victory Alliance and hosts guests. Abadi discussed many topics including his relationship with the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), the government of his successor Adil Abdul Mahdi, the possibility of Iraq mediating between Washington and Tehran and Israel’s targeting of the PMU.

Abadi warned against damaging carefully balanced ties between the Iraqi federal government and Iraq’s Kurdistan region because of power conflicts.

He also commented on the PMU accusing him of serving the intersts of the United States.

Click here to read the full story.

By Mustafa Saadoun for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Former Iraqi premier opens up about PMU, new PM, Iran

Al-Monitor’s correspondent in Iraq interviewed former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi at his family residence within the Green Zone in the capital Baghdad.

There, he holds meetings of the Victory Alliance and hosts guests. Abadi discussed many topics including his relationship with the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), the government of his successor Adil Abdul Mahdi, the possibility of Iraq mediating between Washington and Tehran and Israel’s targeting of the PMU.

Abadi warned against damaging carefully balanced ties between the Iraqi federal government and Iraq’s Kurdistan region because of power conflicts.

He also commented on the PMU accusing him of serving the intersts of the United States.

Click here to read the full story.

By Mustafa Saadoun for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Is positive sentiment toward Israel on the rise in Iraq?

Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz (pictured) expressed his gratitude to Iraqis on Facebook July 24, stating he was thankful for Iraqi participation on the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s “Israel in Iraqi Dialect” Facebook page.

The message came on the first anniversary of the creation of the page, which gained notoriety last July for its broadcasting that a delegation of unnamed Iraqi journalists had visited Israel.

Click here to read the full story.

By Huda Baroud for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh visited Iraq July 15 to discuss importing Iraqi fuel. This falls within the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s quest for gradual economic disengagement from Israel.

Shtayyeh was accompanied to Baghdad by a delegation composed of Minister of Finance Shukri Bishara, Minister of Foreign and Expatriate Affairs Riyad al-Malki, Minister of National Economy Khaled Assali, Minister of Agriculture Riyad Attari and Palestinian intelligence service head Majid Faraj. The delegation met with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, President Barham Salih and parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

Israel has reportedly lifted a ban on trade with Iraq, despite the fact that the two countries do not have official relations and are technically at war.

According to Middle East Monitor, citing Israeli newspaper Maariv, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (pictured) signed an official directive on Monday allowing trade with Iraq.

Maariv speculates that the main reason for the decision is economic and security ties with the autonomous region of Kurdistan.

More here (Hebrew) and here.

(Source: Middle East Monitor, Maariv)

By Saad Salloum for Al Monitor. Any opinions here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

The US State Department announced Sept. 10 that the United States would return the Iraqi Jewish archive to Iraq next year. The archive had been shipped to the United States in 2003, after American troops saved it from destruction by water leaking into the cellars of the Iraqi General Intelligence Service building in Baghdad.

The archive includes tens of thousands of institutional documents, books, religious manuscripts, photographs and personal documents of Iraqi Jews.

Khedr al-Bussoon — a Tel Aviv-based writer, Iraqi Jewish rights activist and son of the prominent journalist Seleim al-Bussoon, who left Iraq with his family in 1973 under Baathist pressure — explained that security agencies and Baathist officials seized the material in the archive in the 1970s and 1980s.

There are personal files and correspondence between the Frank Iny and Shamash schools during the mid-1970s, when the Baathist government nationalized them and renamed them Nizamitta. Also in the archive are documents from synagogues, including from the Meir Taweig Synagogue, in eastern Baghdad’s Batawin district, and books — more than 2,700 according to Bussoon — left behind in Baghdad by Jews who had fled.

Some of the homes of the departed Jews still stand in parts of Baghdad, including in Batawin, once one of the most heavily Jewish neighborhoods in the city, as do some shrines to Jewish prophets and synagogues in the southern provinces.

According to an agreement with the Iraqi government, the archive was scheduled to be returned to Iraq in 2014. When the time came, however, the agreement was revised for reasons related to Iraq’s readiness to preserve the archive after its return. The Baghdad government apparently was in no condition or position to provide proper upkeep. The war against the Islamic State, plus the decrease in world oil prices had contributed to an economic crisis.

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

Iraqi Citizens’ Sentiment may be Softening toward Israel

Some Iraqis are calling for closer relations with Israel, feeling a common bond of past persecution and a desire for peace and stability. Many people might find two factors cited in this change quite surprising: Iraqis’ guilt, and some resentment of Palestinians.

“There is a dramatic shift that has changed [Iraqi] public opinion [toward Israel] as a result of the Palestinians’ involvement in supporting the [late Iraqi] dictator Saddam Hussein and thus getting involved in terrorist operations,” writer and political analyst Ali Mared al-Asadi told Al-Monitor recently by phone.

“Most Shiites in Iraq have a sense of guilt because they did not support the peaceful Jewish community with whom they lived for hundreds of years in peace and harmony in one homeland, but who were persecuted and displaced during the monarchy [1958-1963] and the Baathist regime [1968-2003] eras.”

Much of the fanaticism and hostility toward Israel appears to have declined in central and southern Baghdad, where the majority of people are Shiite.

On Sept. 9, Asadi wrote, “It is not in the interest of Shiites to antagonize Israel. Shiites and Jews ought to reach understandings based on common humanitarian grounds that guarantee peaceful coexistence in the Middle East.”

Asadi told Al-Monitor by phone, “If we put the influence of Iran and the remnants of the Baathist culture aside, Iraq would have no excuse to keep officially antagonizing Israel, especially since the majority of the Arab states, [even] the Palestinian state itself, hold relations with Tel Aviv.” Asadi apparently was referring to Arab states having contacts or other ties with Tel Aviv, because most Arab states do not formally recognize Israel..

Many Sunnis also seem to favor closer ties. Political analyst Maher Abed Jawdah told Al-Monitor, “Even Iraqi Sunnis are in tune with Sunnis in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf countries in establishing good relations with Israel, mainly because they are driven by the same hate toward Iranian Shiites, who are very hostile against Israel.”

Much of the favorable sentiment in Iraq is coming from Kurds. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (pictured) supports the Kurdish quest for an independent state in northern Iraq. This has pushed some Kurds to promote the idea of openness to Israel and to call for turning their relationship into an official one. Some media outlets even showed Kurdish cities raising the Israeli flag next to the Kurdish flag as they prepared for a Sept. 25 vote on a nonbinding independence referendum, which passed overwhelmingly.

By Hamdi Malik for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said recently that any group taking up arms in Iraq outside the state’s official framework will be considered outlaws. However, it seems at least some of the factions fighting under the banner of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) in Iraq would not obey Abadi’s order.

On March 22, Abadi spoke at a meeting of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS (Islamic State, or IS) in Washington. Also during his trip, he told the media that IS will be eliminated from Iraq’s cities “within weeks.”

What will happen then? Hashim al-Musawi, the spokesman for Iran-controlled, Shiite Iraq militia known as the Islamic Resistance Movement in Iraq (al-Nojaba), announced earlier in the month the formation of the Golan Liberation Brigade. But the announcement appeared to be more a declaration that Iran-affiliated Iraqi militias will be ready to take on a greater role in the region once IS is gone. (In addition, Musawi threatened to take military action against Turkish forces stationed near Mosul if they refuse to leave Iraq.)

The brigade announcement carried great symbolism, as the press conference was held in the office of the Iranian news agency Tasnim, which supports the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Tehran.

Musawi also criticized the United States and Saudi Arabia, stressing that al-Nojaba “will not drop its weapons as long as the region is still threatened.” Al-Nojaba will continue its endeavor to reclaim the Golan Heights in Syria from Israel, he added.

Three days after this announcement, a leader of al-Nojaba had something to say on the subject. The militia’s secretary-general, Sheikh Akram al-Kaabi, said March 11, “The Golan Liberation Brigade’s formation is not propaganda, but one of the Islamic resistance’s true objectives.” He added, “The resistance is capable of beating the ‘axis of evil’ and the Zionist entity,” referring to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

This isn’t the first time Iran-affiliated Iraqi parties have talked about taking action outside Iraq, in line with Iran’s foreign policy in the region.

By John Lee.

The first deputy speaker of the Iraqi parliament has reportedly said that Iraq plans to sue Israel for monetary compensation for bombing the Osirak nuclear reactor in Baghdad in 1981.

Homam Hamoudi called on the UN to implement Security Council Resolution 487 from 1981 which gives Iraq the right to ask for compensation for the operation against the reactor, according to a report from Ynetnews.

(Source: Ynetnews)

(Iraq-Israel image via Shutterstock)

By John Lee.

Iraq has banned the importion of frozen and live poultry products from two dozen countries.

According to a report from Reuters, Baghdad restricted poultry imports from France last month, following a reported outbreak of H5N1 bird flu.

The ban now extends to Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Bhutan, China, Egypt, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Laos, Libya, Myanmar, Mexico, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Palestine, South Africa, South Korea and Vietnam.

Products affected include “poultry and birds of all kinds … as well as both types of eggs (table and hatching), feathers and all products that use poultry or their products.

(Sources: Reuters, BasNews)

(Poultry image via Shutterstock)