Why Israel Ignores Iraq


Over the recent months, Israeli politicians, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as leading national media commentators and security officials, muse about a possible rapprochement to Sunni Arab countries. In his speech to the Knesset commemorating forty years to Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat’s historic visit to Jerusalem, Netanyahu claimed that cooperation with the leadership of Sunni Arab countries has reached unprecedented levels and added that the problem is not with the leaders but with the public opinion in the Arab world, which remains ant-Israeli. Media commentators oftentimes praise the advantages of relations with Saudi Arabia and call on the Israeli government to accept the Saudi-backed Arab Initiative to make that happen. Yet, politicians, officials, and commentators alike omit from their analyses the biggest Arab state east of Israel, namely Iraq.

Why does Israel ignore Iraq? Until 2003, Israel considered Iraq a major security threat. With the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq was discarded as a major threat and naturally, Israeli interest in it, on both security and political levels, was somehow lost. The security-minded Israeli thinking still persists with the focus on Iraq as a cradle of regional terrorism. Add to that the fact that Israel sees Iraq as part and parcel of the Iranian space of influence in the Arab Middle East, allegedly stretching from Tehran to Beirut and often referred to as the “Shiite Crescent” or the Iranian “land bridge.”

Israeli decision-makers’ as well as commentators’ lack of interest in the political developments in Iraq, leads them to exaggerate in Iranian influence in Iraq and lose track of alternative trends

Another prevailing view among many Israelis, emanating from top down, is that Iraq is not much of a “viable state.” Iraq is often described as either a “failed state,” an “artificial state,” a “collapsed state” or a combination of all three. The amazingly quick rise of ISIS in 2014, which culminated in the occupation of a third of Iraq’s territory, reassured many Israelis of the veracity of that image. Even the rapid and impressive military recovery of the Iraqi state and military since 2015 failed to convince Israelis that Iraq is indeed a viable state. Most of the Israelis prefer to believe that the American Coalition defeated ISIS and not the Iraqi armed forces, or at least supplied the military backing and assistance that made the whole thing possible.

Another prevailing view among many Israelis, emanating from top down, is that Iraq is not much of a “viable state.” Iraq is often described as either a “failed state,” an “artificial state,” a “collapsed state” or a combination of all three. The amazingly quick rise of ISIS in 2014, which culminated in the occupation of a third of Iraq’s territory, reassured many Israelis of the veracity of that image. Even the rapid and impressive military recovery of the Iraqi state and military since 2015 failed to convince Israelis that Iraq is indeed a viable state. Most of the Israelis prefer to believe that the American Coalition defeated ISIS and not the Iraqi armed forces, or at least supplied the military backing and assistance that made the whole thing possible.

 

Source     www.jpost.com

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