Al-Alusi and Israel

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The New York Sun

The events in Baghdad involving the trip to Israel by a member of Iraq’s parliament, Mithal al-Alusi, are shaping up as quite a test. On Sunday, members of Iraq’s parliament moved to strip Mr. Alusi’s parliamentary immunity from prosecution in order to charge him with treason for visiting the Jewish state.

Mr. Alusi has attended this same counter-terrorism conference for the past four years. The law under which he is to be prosecuted is a 1969 statute dating back to the initial Baathist purges of Israeli agents. The moment is a clarifying one. Will Iraq become a model of freedom for the Middle East, or will its politics devolve into the same cycle of corruption and violence that plagues its neighbors?

When we reached Mr. Alusi in Baghdad he was in good spirits. He told us he sought to explore an alliance of nations — America, Israel, Kuwait, Iraq — that are victims of Iranian aggression. “The real problem was because I was saying Iran is a problem and we need to free ourselves from the Iranian danger. I was calling for an alliance of Iran’s victims,” he said. Mr. Alusi says that for too many years the regimes in the Middle East have used the Jewish state as an excuse for their own misrule. “I have visited Israel before. I have been open about this. I won elections, my party is more popular now because of this than before,” he said.

Mr. Alusi spent the day Monday campaigning on the issue and says he has received overwhelming support. We would not count him out. He made his name in the Iraqi opposition by briefly taking over Iraq’s embassy in Berlin in 2002 and spent time in a German prison for his beliefs. He lost two sons at the hands of terrorists inside Iraq’s government and has survived multiple assassination plots. What a turnabout and a victory it would be if a visit to Israel actually made an Iraqi politician more popular.

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