In 2018, multiple delegations of prominent Iraqis—including both Shiites and Sunnis—made sub-rosa visits to Israel; some Iraqi parliamentarians were apparently among them. News of the visits, which only became public a few weeks ago, sparked outrage in Iraq, and the speaker of the country’s parliament called for a formal investigation to identify and punish any officials who had contact with the Jewish state. To Edy Cohen, this reaction, together with prior experience, should be a warning to Jerusalem in its pursuit of ties with Baghdad:
Iraq is a failed state. Though one of the world’s most richly endowed countries in terms of natural resources, it is unable to provide its residents with such elementary needs as electricity and drinking water. Iraqis are sick and tired of their miserable existence. They are loath to see their oil and other natural treasures plundered by Iran, which has come to dominate Iraq through its proxy Shiite militias ever since Saddam’s downfall. Eager to free themselves of Iranian domination at any price, Iraqis are now asking for Israel’s military assistance in return for empty promises of peace. Unfortunately, Israel is allocating substantial resources toward this hopeless end.
There are [also] tens of thousands of Iraqi migrants in Europe who are unable to return to their homeland. They hope Israel will help remove the Iranians from Iraq and promise peace when they return home and take control of the government. And so Iraq joins the list of Arab actors that seek Israeli aid in return for hollow promises of a future peace, paying the same kind of lip service paid by the Lebanese Christians in the 1980s and most recently by the Syrian opposition.
Peace with Iraq is still light years away. In October 2017, the Iraqi parliament passed a law prohibiting the raising of the Israeli flag in the country and punishing violators with jail time. As adamant as Israeli policymakers claim to be about learning from past experiences, they should at the very least read the present situation correctly.