Israeli Aggressions against Iraq: From Subversions to Normalization Attempts
The Israeli occupation has attempted to destabilize Iraq since the sixties. How is the Israeli occupation trying to infiltrate Iraqi society?
On the 24th of the current month, the "Peace and Reclamation" conference was held in Erbil, the capital city of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, to call for the normalization of relations with the Israeli occupation under the shady slogans of peace and establishing civil society organizations.
The Conference, organized by the New York-based Center for Peace Communications (CPC), was called "an illegal gathering" by the Iraqi government, knowing that the CPC is an organization that openly calls for the normalization of relations between the Arab states and "Israel".
For a foreign observer, the story might look like it started here, and one might think, isolating the Iraqis from their national and cultural context, that this reaction is just a mere prejudice from the Iraqis in the face of something they ignore or never have experienced. But is this the case?
A history of sabotage
In spite of the fact that Iraq does not share a direct border with occupied Palestine, the country was a target of countless Israeli aggressions during the last century. Even before the foundation of the Israeli entity in 1948, contact has been made as early as the thirties through the Jewish agency with some Kurdish groups in northern Iraq. In the forties and fifties, simple contact was transformed into real military espionage committed by Kumran Ali Bedir-Khan, a Kurdish leader with close ties to "Israel".
These espionage attempts continued throughout the sixties. They were expanded to include a larger scale training and supply operation as well to the insurgents in the north when a rebellion started in the autumn of 1961 in northern Iraqi regions. This came after a meeting of Kurdish leaders from the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) with Israeli officials during that year.
Israeli attempts to destabilize the country go back to at least the sixties when the Israelis intervened, with the help of the SAVAK, the former Shah of Iran intelligence agency, to assist the militants of the KDP led by Moustafa Barazani. The insurgents agreed on this Israeli supply and training operation in 1963 after they were initially hesitant. There were reports about unidentified arms caches in the region, and Mossad agents never found any difficulty in accessing the northern zones of Iraq to fuel the insurgency.
In August 1965, the Israelis provided a training course code-named Marvad (carpet) for Peshmerga (the military force of Barazani at the time). Israeli-backed militias not only destabilized the region and attacked Iraqi military personnel and installations, but also targeted civilian infrastructures. Attacking the Kirkuk oil field, which produced a large portion of Iraq's oil at that time, was one of many of such attacks.
Following the Shah of Iran signing the 1975 Algier Agreement with Iraq, Israelis objected to the Shah and called the agreement a "betrayal to the Kurds." This abandonment led to the KDP's demise and a subsequent de-escalation of the violence in the north, despite maintaining contacts with "Israel" afterward.
The first official acknowledgment of the Israeli occupation's aid to the insurgency dates back to September 29, 1980, when Prime Minister Menachem Begin disclosed that "Israel" had supported the Kurds (KDP) “during their uprising against the Iraqis in 1965–1975." Begin added that "Israel" had sent instructors and arms, but not military units.
In 2004, the Israeli media reported on meetings between Masud Barzani (who would become president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in 2005 ), Jalal Talabani (who would become president of Iraq in 2005 and serve in that office until 2014), and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Relations continued to flourish as the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) became entangled with this illegal normalization according to Iraqi Legal code 111 of 1969, in its 201st article.
Such actions reached their peak after the Iraqi President and Head of the PUK Jalal Talabani shook hands with Ehud Barak, the Israeli Security Minister, in 2008. In 2015, "Israel" reportedly imported as much as three-quarters of its oil from the Kurdistan region in Iraq, providing a vital source of funds to the Kurdish Peshmerga to finance their militia.
Normalization as a division method
As a part of its "Peripherical Alliance" strategy, the Israeli occupation tried to sow division in the societies surrounding it. It tried to ally itself with every ethnic or religious minority in the Arab world, as well as surrounding states like Turkey or the Shah's Persia. It is worth noting that the objective of this article is not to bash Kurds as ethnicity in any way. For instance, many Kurdish factions resisted colonialism and Zionism, such as the PKK who fought the Israeli occupation in 1982. Kurdish factions in general, have been a target of Israeli subversive actions, due to the complexity of the Kurdish national cause that the Israelis tried to exploit.
For the first time, this time publically at least, the normalization efforts have been extended to wider sectors of the Iraqi society outside of the "Periphery doctrine." These efforts have intensified with the recent normalization wave that included UAE, Bahrain, and other countries like Morocco. In parallel with normalization attempts, new names surfaced, such as Wissam al-Hardan, Head of the Awakening Movement, and Sahar al-Tai, among others who have called for normalizing ties with "Isreal" following the previously mentioned states' model. "The UAE and Saudi Arabia are backing these efforts," according to Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces.
Haaretz Israeli newspaper mentioned another level of normalization that is happening mainly on social media. Besides the older Facebook and Twitter page "Israel in Arabic" that was launched in 2011, another Facebook page "Isreal Speaks in Iraqi (dialect)" was created in 2018 with the Iraqi society specifically as its target. The newspaper mentions that many operate under the cover of linking Iraqi jews to their heritage and introducing "Israel" to the Iraqis.
Haaretz also cites the Facebook page admin as saying that the 2003 war opened up new channels of communication with Iraqis, which has been made easier with the signing of normalization deals with UAE and other countries. Iraqis with second passports are being brought to "Israel" under the pretext of "tourism" since 2018, which the organizer claims is independent of her work for the occupation government as an administrator of the page. The page publically calls for normalization and launches polls to investigate public opinions.
The stumbling project
The Iraqi government and various political parties expressed their firm rejection of the "illegal" meetings that were held by some tribal figures in the city of Erbil in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and that called for normalizing ties with "Israel." Arrest warrants have been issued against the participants in the "Peace and Reclamation" conference in Erbil, and one of the main speakers at the conference, Wissam al-Hardan was suspended from his post as Head of the Awakening Movement.
After an illegal meeting took place in Erbil discussing normalising ties with Israel, dozens of signs have appeared overnight in Iraq rejecting normalising ties with the Zionist entity. Iraq against normalisation 🇮🇶 pic.twitter.com/Abj9Ankrmy— HST 🇮🇶 (@Twelver313) September 25, 2021
In light of these events, rage flared up in the streets of Iraqi, and activists on social media called for holding all participants accountable for the crimes they committed as per Iraqi laws. Iraqis haven't forgotten the injustice of the Israeli occupation against their Palestinian and Arab brethren, and they will surely not forget the role the Israelis played in insinuating and calling for a ravaging war launched by the US against their country in 2003; a war whose devastating effects are still unfolding up to this very day.