By Lujain Elbaldawi for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraqi Jews in Israel watch protests with hope

The protests in Iraq have drawn the attention of a minority group that emigrated decades ago. Although Iraq’s Jews could not return to Iraq for reasons beyond their control, they have showed wide support and interest in the protests.

Iraq’s Jewish emigrants in Israel have displayed varied feelings toward the protest movement.

In addition to their amazement at seeing a national identity rising from the ashes of wars and conflict, they watched with heavy hearts as the protesters were brutally suppressed, with up to 600 people dead and more than 25,000 wounded, recalling the painful reasons they left their mother country in 1950-1951.

Click here to read the full story.

From Breaking Defense.

Contrary to declarations made by President Donald Trump, the U.S is not withdrawing forces from Iraq, but is building at least three semi-permanent new bases very close to the Iranian border in northern Iraq, Israeli sources tell Breaking Defense.

Click here to read the full story.

(Picture: Balad Air Base)

By John Lee.

The Palestinian Authority has reportedly filed a formal request to Israel to allow the import of fuel from Iraq.

Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, told Israel’s Haaretz newspaper that although the request was made four months ago, Israel has yet to respond.

He said:

“Fuel is our biggest expense … The cheaper fuel from Iraq will reduce the pressure on our budget considerably.”

More here.

(Source: Haaretz)

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.