By Rafael Sadi
In the “Peace and Recovery Conference” that was organized by the US-based Center for Peace Communications in Erbil, Iraq, about 300 people, including some tribal leaders, discussed establishing normalization between Israel and the Arab countries, and the rapprochement between civil societies.
The Northern Iraq Regional Government maintains friendly relations with the Jewish state.
Joseph Broad, Iraqi Jewish-American expert and founder of the Center for Peace Communications, said that approximately 300 participants, both Sunni and Shiite, from six provinces in Erbil participated. He said they came from Baghdad, Mosul, Salah al-Din, Anbar, Diyala and all of Babylon.
“Tribal sheikhs, intellectuals and writers from these provinces also participated , ” Brod added.
In the final statement of the conference, read by the Baghdad Ministry of Culture Research Director Sahar Al-Atlai, “We demand our participation in the Abraham Accords. As the agreements stipulate the establishment of diplomatic relations between the signatories and the State of Israel, we demand a new policy based on normal relations with Israel and civil relations with its people,” he said.
The “Abraham Accords” were signed under the auspices of Washington in September 2020 to normalize relations between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, and then Morocco, Bhutan and Sudan. “No domestic or foreign power has the right to prevent us from making such an arrangement,” said Atlaie, one of the speakers at the conference .
“THE TIMES HAVE CHANGED”
Among the Iraqi speakers was a former Major General and one of the leaders of the “Awakening”, a tribal group that is fighting extremist Islamist organizations with Washington’s support.
Chimi Peres, head of a foundation founded by her father, the late Israeli President Shimon Peres, gave a speech at the conference.
Sheikh Raysan al-Halbusi, the Anbar sheikh of the al-Bumatar tribe, said , “We have had enough of enmity, strife and killing. We must open a new page in favor of cooperation, peace and security so that our children and grandchildren after us can live in peace and security. In the past, you could not persuade the citizens to normalize with Israel… But opinions changed over time.”
In recent years, many Iraqi leaders have visited Israel, and Kurdish politicians have openly called for normalization with Israel. And when the Iraqi Kurds held a controversial “independence” referendum in 2017, Israel was among their few supporters.
Responding to the normalization conference held yesterday in the Erbil province on Saturday, the Hardan tribe pointed out that the Kurds were pushing the Anbar sheikhs towards normalization.
Ihsan al-Hardan, one of the tribe’s notables, said in a statement, “The Hardan family has no knowledge and has nothing to do with what took place in the conference held in Erbil yesterday.”
Al-Hardan said, “The publications by Sheikh Wissam Al-Hardan represents his personal views and do not represent the Awakening of Iraq’s members, his family, or even the Hardan clan, which has always sacrificed for the sake of Iraq. The Hardan clan supports the Palestinian cause as it is the main Arab cause and they will never accept normalization with the Zionist entity like the Emirates and other Gulf sheikhs and leaders. The Kurds are trying to force the sheikhs and notables of Anbar and other provinces towards normalization with the Zionist entity, but this will not happen to us at any cost because the Anbar tribes will always support the unity of Iraq, as well as the Palestinian cause.”
“THE SITUATION WARMS UP”
As former Minister of Regional Cooperation, my old friend Mr. Ayoob Kara reported, while a conference was held in Erbil for the realization of peace and reconciliation with Israel within the framework of the Abraham Accords, he declared that non-Kurdish Iraqis also particularly welcomed such a reconciliation.
On the other hand, in the statement made by the Iraqi Prime Minister, it was said, “As the Iraqi government, we absolutely reject the illegal meetings of some tribal representatives in Erbil for the slogan of normalization with Israel.”
“I am proud of you Mrs. Sahar Atlai, director of the Research Institute of the Iraqi Culture Ministry and my good friend Mithal Al Alusi, head of the Al Nahda Party,” he stated. Kara praised these Iraqis for valuing the lives and prosperity of Iraqi citizens over the terrorism orchestrated by the Iranian militias, “who would wipe out any country.” Kara called upon the Iraqi Prime Minister to join the Abraham Accords and to make peace with the Jewish state.