Alwaght- On the first anniversary of the Israeli normalization agreement with the UAE and Bahrain, a majority of the Arab countries have proved against the "treasonous" step, running counter to the hope of its designers that the move will break the Muslim and world's strictest taboo and turn the thaw with Tel Aviv into a widespread political initiative across the Arab world. This led to much-advertised normalization to stop at the first station, and despite the noisy shows over the past year about the so-called achievements of the normalizing states and the impacts on the regional security order, especially in the Persian Gulf region, the agreement went to the margins in the important regional developments sooner than it was anticipated.
But in such circumstances, holding a conference favoring normalization in Iraq as a member of anti-Israeli Axis of Resistance and a staunch and long-term enemy of the Israeli regime in the region and the Muslim world was a bombshell in the Iraqi politics.
When the word spread about Erbil conference that was attended by tribal Sunni leaders, in addition to the government many party and religious figures censured the illegal and largely taboo-breaking move.
The Iraqi government, led by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, "categorically" rejected the pro-normalization meeting in a statement issued through the PM's press office.
Muqtada al-Sadr, the head of Sadr Movement and Saerun parliamentary bloc, in a message posted on his blog used the term "Zionist terrorism" to describe the meeting, adding that "Erbil must stop such meetings." He asked the government to arrest all the participants and called on his supporters to "prepare for orders to deal with dirty elements favoring normalization."
Qais Khazali, the commander of Asaib Ahl Al-Haq Brigades, in a Twitter post said what happened in Erbil violated all the values and national and humanitarian principles. "It is an explicit violation of the Iraqi criminal law," he asserted, noting: "The Islamic resistance will not remain silent in the face of this great treason, and we will teach the Zionist enemy and those who accompany it a lesson so that no one will even think of normalizing later."
Fatah parliamentary coalition led by Hadi al-Amiri disparaged the conference and expressed its surprise about its arrangement on the Iraqi soil and lashed out at the Kurdistan region's intelligence apparatus and claims of its being in the dark. The statement said that the attendance and those behind its arrangement show that there have been apparent participation of Erbil officials in the event.
"The Fatah Coalition emphasizes that all those who attended the conference are worthless traitors and do not express the identity of the honorable Iraqi tribes who have historical positions on the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, and that this conference is a treacherous story that history will record and remember with the worst terms and descriptions," the statement read.
Additionally, Islamic Dawa Party and State of Law Coalition led by former PM Nouri al-Maliki stated that "we strongly condemn" the conference of a group that only represent themselves not the real will of the Iraqis.
"Normalization with the usurping Zionist enemy is a crime under the Iraqi Penal Code, and the judicial and governmental authorities must prosecute its organizers, speakers, and participants," the statement held.
The Nasr Coalition, led by former PM Haider al-Abadi, stated that it "condemns all calls for normalization with the Zionist regime" and the recent political and social activities as an insult to the stability of Iraq and their firm stance in support of Palestine.
Nasr Coalition called the move a "rebellion" against the Iraqi constitution, laws, and values.
But criticism of the conference was not limited to Shiites, and Iraqi Sunni movements condemned the "treacherous" Erbil meeting. In this regard, the Sunni Endowment Office announced in a statement that it condemns all steps seeking Iraqi normalization with the Israeli regime.
Parliament speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi, who also represents Development Coalition, hailed the traditional Iraqi stance on the Palestinian cause and called for "strict legal actions" against voices rising for normalization with Tel Aviv.
The common response by Iraqi groups to the Kurdistan Regional Government and the announcement of legal action and punishment for the organizers and those present at the meeting frightened the leaders of Erbil and caused their retreat. Meanwhile, Iraqi law has death penalty for those supporting normalizing ties with the Israeli regime.
To assuage the backlash, the Kurdish region's interior ministry claimed that the conference took place without their knowledge, permission, and participation, and never reflects the official stance of Erbil government. The ministry promised a series of measures against the organizers.
Erbil conference: Decisive for Iraq and region
The Erbil conference certainly has planners outside Iraqi, in addition to the politically insignificant arrangers inside Iraq. It was effectively, reports say, organized by a US-based think tank, Center for Peace Communications.
It seems highly unlikely that the organizers of this meeting were unaware of their absurd act of encouraging the Iraqi people and government to join the normalization process, given the Iraqi people's historical enmity to the Israeli regime and their support for Palestine. So, it seems that it is aimed at sowing political division along with sectarian division agenda followed for years in Iraq as part of the Western traditional "divide and rule" policy.
The US occupational presence in Iraq is in its final months and weeks, and Washington leaders are using every pretext to delay such a disgraceful withdrawal. This sinister goal, like the plot to rebuild ISIS, was foiled by the timely and united response of various Iraqi Sunni and Shiite groups.
Breaking the taboos associated with the normalization with the Israelis through holding ostensibly academic and non-state meetings and promoting benefits for Baghdad is part of a design by the American and Israeli planners of the event for gradually advancing the normalization.
Another goal is frustration of the Resistance camp and rebuilding the largely destroyed self-confidence of the Israeli society after back-to-back defeats from Resistance, a bloc led by Iran and including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen with its central aim facing the Israeli occupation and expansion and Western divisive project in the region. The planners intend to pretend that normalization has already penetrated in the region's most important anti-Israeli alliance and is growing.
However, reactions to the meeting and the near-term grave consequences for its organizers and participants not only bring despair to the planners but also work like a test of Iraqi firm position as the Resistance camp member for Baghdad's foes and regional advocates of normalization.