Call by Iraqi academics to normalize relations with Israel is purely patriotic
On September 24, some 312 Iraqis – including tribal leaders and academics – gathered in the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, Erbil, calling on their country to join the “Abraham Accords” and normalize relations with it. Israel. These people are very courageous because they know that Iran’s terrorist proxies in Iraq will make them a target.
One of those who called for the normalization of relations with the Jewish state is Iraqi parliament member Mithal Al Aloussi, who has lost two of his sons. They were murdered as “punishment” for his visits to Israel.
What invigorates their courage is that their position is purely patriotic. Joining Arab countries that have signed normalization agreements with Israel greatly strengthens the Iraqi state. A strategic alliance with Israel, Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain can decisively counteract Iran’s efforts to take control of Iraq, neutralize its sovereignty and turn it into another invaded state. by proxy militias like Yemen or Lebanon. But beyond the strategic advantage of being a member of a new regional alliance, Iraq would have enormous economic gains from developing good relations with Israel.
Iraq’s only outlet to the sea is the port of Umm-Qasr on the northern shore of the Arabian Gulf. The seaports of Haifa could serve as an outlet for Iraq to the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It was the vision that motivated me, as a former Minister of Transport, to rebuild the Ottoman-era “Valley Railway” from Beit She’an to Haifa. If this railway were to be connected to Irbid and Mafrq in northern Jordan, it would become a transportation link that could facilitate Iraq’s trade with the global economy.
This idea was studied by professional experts, they found it operationally feasible. Meanwhile, dozens of heavy trucks roll on the road from Haifa to Jordan every day. It is only a political decision, as requested by the participants in the Erbil conference, that can open this route from Jordan to Iraq. The rehabilitation of the old Iraq-Haifa pipeline via Jordan can also be considered.
But it is not the transport solutions alone that can help Iraq if it normalizes its relations with Israel. Iraq is grappling with a shortage of drinking water and irrigation sources. Innovative Israeli water treatment and agricultural technologies can provide Iraq with practical solutions that will alleviate its severe water and food challenges.
In discussions with Iraqi businessmen, you can tell that they are interested in these opportunities. Erbil’s lecture reflects their interest.
Water and transport are just two of the issues Iraq can benefit from if it follows the path of other Arab countries. It is a sure way to restore full sovereignty.
Israel cannot physically defend the participants in the Erbil conference. They are already exposed to threats, punishment and violence. But Israel can say loud and clear that it is reaching out for peace and cooperation with Iraq and its people.
It is probably no coincidence that the conference took place in Erbil. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Israeli army aided the Kurdish freedom fighters. In this part of Iraq, we Israelis remember with love.
Israel needs the boldness to reach out to Iraq for the sake of the good old days.
Efraim Sneh is a retired Israel Defense Forces politician, physician and brigadier general. He held several ministerial positions between 1992 and 2008