Iraq Should Join the Abraham Accords

September 24, 2021

By Wisam Al-Hardan

More than 300 of my fellow Iraqis from Baghdad, Mosul, Al-Anbar, Babel, Salahuddin and Diyala joined me Friday in this northern city, where we issued a public demand for Iraq to enter into relations with Israel and its people through the Abraham Accords.

We are an assembly of Sunnis and Shiites, featuring members of the (Sunni) Sons of Iraq Awakening movement, which I lead, in addition to intellectuals, tribal elders, and youth activists of the 2019-21 protest movement. Some of us have faced down ISIS and al Qaeda on the battlefield. Through blood and tears we have long demonstrated that we oppose all extremists, whether Sunni jihadists or Iran-backed Shiite militias. We have also demonstrated our patriotism: We sacrificed lives for the sake of a unified Iraq, aspiring to realize a federal system of government as stipulated in our nation’s constitution.

Now, in striving to rebuild our country, we commit ourselves to an awakening of peace. Our guiding light is the memory of a more honorable past: a young, modern state with a glorious ancient tradition; a country that, at its finer moments, witnessed a spirit of partnership across ethnic and sectarian lines. Iraq’s subsequent deterioration was marked by the dissipation of tolerance—a casualty of generations of tyranny and fear, imposed first by rulers, then by external actors, as a tool to divide and conquer.

The most infamous act in this tragedy was the mass exodus and dispossession of the majority of our Iraqi Jewish population, a community with 2,600 years of history, in the mid-20th century. Through their forced migration, Iraq effectively cut one of its own principal veins. Yet we draw hope from the knowledge that most Iraqi Jews managed to rebuild their lives, passing their traditions to their children and grandchildren in Israel.

In striving to rebuild Iraq, we must reconnect with the whole of our diaspora, including these Jews. We reject the hypocrisy in some quarters of Iraq that speaks kindly of Iraqi Jews while denigrating their Israeli citizenship and the Jewish state, which granted them asylum.

Some of the countries surrounding Iraq are withering in war, while others are blooming in peace. We reject the rule by warlords that has devastated Libya and Yemen. We refuse to allow the tyranny and atrocities of Syria to dissuade us. We decry the cascading tragedies of Lebanon, where a militia that began as a state within a state has swallowed the country whole.

At the same time, we see a hopeful trend in the region: an expanding community of peace, economic development and brotherhood that is the framework of the Abraham Accords—initiated by the United Arab Emirates with its Israeli partners, and joined by our brethren from Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

We have a choice: tyranny and chaos, or legality, decency, peace and progress. The answer is clear. Just as we demand that Iraq achieve federalism domestically, we demand that Iraq join the Abraham Accords internationally. We call for full diplomatic relations with Israel and a new policy of mutual development and prosperity.

We have taken the first step of meeting publicly in Erbil in consort with an American organization, the Center for Peace Communications. Next we will seek face-to-face talks with Israelis. No power, foreign or domestic, has the right to prevent us from moving forward. Iraq’s anti-normalization laws, which criminalize civil engagement between Arabs and Israelis, are morally repugnant.

We extend a hand of friendship to our brothers and sisters in humanity across the region and around the world, and we ask for God’s help as we move forward toward a brighter future.


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