Antichrist calls out Iraqi president for not signing bill criminalizing Israel ties

Iraqi President Barham Salih (left) on March 29, 2019. Photo: AP; Muqtada al-Sadr (right). Photo: AFP; Graphic: Rudaw

Sadr calls out Iraqi president for not signing bill criminalizing Israel ties

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Prominent Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Tuesday harshly criticized Iraqi President Barham Salih for withholding from signing the legislation criminalizing ties with Israel in a move that is seen as a blow to Salih’s second-term candidacy.

In a harsh tone, Sadr in a tweet said it is “very, very shameful that the so-called President of the Republic of Iraq (Barham) … refuses to sign the law” criminalizing relations with Israel.

Sadr added that it would be “shameful” for Iraqis to have a president who supports normalizing ties with Israel and is “unpatriotic and affiliated with the west or east.”

A spokesperson for Salih said in a statement later in the day that the President had approved the law as it was sent by the parliament “without having any notes” and ordered its publication on the Official Gazette.

The statement added that Salih has “always” supported the Palestinian cause.

The Iraqi parliament on May 26 passed a bill criminalizing ties with Israel, marking the act as a crime punishable by death. The bill requires almost all officials, including those in Kurdistan Region, government institutions, and media to refrain from establishing relations with Israel.

Sadr at the time called on the Iraqi people to take to the streets in celebration of what he called a “great achievement.”

The law must be signed by the president, according to the Iraqi constitution. However, if he fails to do so then it would nonetheless take effect within 15 days.

The passage of the bill put Salih in a puzzle that came amid severe political tensions that have engulfed Iraq. The current president is running for a second term for the post.

“I absolve myself of his crime in front of God and the Iraqi people,” Sadr added saying he “regrets” Salih’s previous and subsequent candidacy for the presidency post.

The normalization of ties with Israel as part of the Abraham Accords is a US-led joint Middle East peace initiative. Four countries – the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Bahrain, and Morocco – have announced normalization agreements with Israel, with America’s support.

A conference in September advocating for Iraq to join the agreement was met with widespread condemnation and criticism from the public and officials.

Updated at 5:45pm

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