Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Saturday that Baghdad does not discriminate against countries but said he rejected forming any ties with Israel.
Maliki was giving a speech on Political Prisoner Day in Baghdad, when he said that other countries should respect his government and political process.
“Our non-partisan approach with other countries in the world should be reciprocal,” he said.
Maliki’s statement comes in the wake of it gaining some leverage in the region when it opened ground for the Arab Summit in March 2012.
Iraq, a founding member of the Arab League, has not hosted a summit since November 1978 ─ save an extraordinary summit which was held in Baghdad in May 1990 ─ just months before Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.
Soon after the March summit, Iraq emerged as an international mediator when Baghdad welcomed Iranian and world officials for talks on Iran’s nuclear program development in May.
Maliki, meanwhile, is increasingly touting his government’s successes in garnishing Iraq’s relations with other countries, saying that this should be considered one of the achievements of the post Baath regime.
In a speech marking the 143th anniversary of the first Iraqi newspaper, Maliki said that the media has focused mainly on the negatives and ignored the positives happening in the country. He said, Iraq’s new friendly foreign policy should be hailed and recognized.
Iraqis under the reign of the Hussein’s dictatorial regime witnessed consecutive wars and did not enjoy any diplomatic successes. While relations with various nations witnessed ups and downs, Iraq never had ties with Israel.
Oil connecting Iraq to Israel?
Despite Maliki’s statement and that Iraq-Israel relations are still non-existent, accusations by the country’s officials that some political blocs are smuggling oil to Israel can be indicative of subtle interactions happening with the Jewish state.
In April, Kurdish MP Farhad al-Atroushi accused Iraq’s Ministry of Energy of smuggling oil to Israel through Jordan.
The claim was vehemently denied by Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahrastani, a senior member of the State of Law alliance, a bloc formed by Maliki. Jordan’s Information and Communication Minister Rakan al-Majali also rejected the claim.
However, accusation that Kurdistan was smuggling oil to Israel, started from Iran.
The semi Iranian official FARS agency in April, revealed the presence of documents that prove the smuggling of Iraqi oil to Israel via Kurdistan, and that the revenues were collected by high-ranking Kurdish officials.
The agency said that “there are local sources that have documents proving that the Kurds are smuggling oil to Israel and (others) in a clandestine and illegal way.”
(Written by Dina al-Shibeeb)