Iraq Moves To Prosecute Iraqi Parliament Member For Visiting Israel & Calling For Relations
News
September 17, 2008

 


The Iraqi parliament voted to strip the parliamentary immunity of one of its members, Mithal Alusi for visiting Israel last week to attend an international counter-terrorism conference at which he called for relations with Israel. This allows the Iraqi government to prosecute Alusi for breaking Iraqi law by visiting the Jewish state. The law under which he is to be prosecuted is a 1969 statute enacted by the Ba’athist regime, the Arab fascist movement that seized power in 1963 and which later led to the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi parliament also decided to ban Alusi from travelling outside Iraq or attending sessions of the Assembly. The decision against Alusi, the only member of his own independent political party in the parliament, was taken by acclamation.


 


Alusi challenged his colleagues in a parliamentary session this week, “Are you holding me accountable for not hiding secrets? For being honest? For not walking behind the curtains? It is better than visiting in secret.” Ali al-Adeeb of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Dawa Party opened by suggesting Alusi’s recent comments might be “part of an undisclosed plan to subdue our proud society to gradually accept what it rejects by principle.” Ayad al-Samarrai, of the Iraqi Islamic Party, called Alusi’s visit a betrayal of his oath of office “as the Zionist Entity is described as an enemy of the State of Iraq in Iraqi law.” Alusi replied, “This is my second visit … After my first visit I was received as a colleague and a friend by the (Shiite Supreme Council, the biggest component of the governing Shiite Alliance) Council and by al-Dawa. What has changed this time? Is it because I mentioned Iran? If we are speaking about accusations – those who are working with the Iranian intelligence are the ones who should be accused. Enough false bids! You are selling Iraq to Iran!” the fury expressed against Alusi was so strong that even Hasan al-Shammeri, of the mainly Shiite Fadhila Party, said, “God let the devil have his say and then condemned him,” he said. “Doesn’t this man deserve at least that much?” Al-Shammeri was compelled to hastily indicate that he was not in any way supporting Alusi’s visit to Israel. The Kurdish bloc was noticeably quiet, with Saedi Barzinji later, in an interview with McClatchy Newspapers, questioning the political wisdom of Alusi’s trip but maintaining that it would be “better for Iraq for him to remain” in office.


 


Some members of parliament were contemplating treason charges, which could carry the death sentence, but Tariq Harb, an expert in Iraqi law, said those charges had questionable legal basis. And an article in the Iraqi constitution, he noted, gives citizens the right to travel anywhere they wish. By the end of Sunday’s session, lawmakers had banned Alusi from traveling outside the country and from attending further sessions. Alusi, for his part, said parliament’s speaker had suggested the matter might be swept under the rug with an apology, but he has absolutely no intention of giving one. “I believe in what I have done,” he said. “I will never stop . . . They can arrest me, they can kill me, but I will keep going.” Powerful forces were aligning against him, he said, and Sunday’s events were a victory for “Qaida and Iranian intelligence, a loss for democratic process” (Nicholas Spangler & Mohammed Al-Dulaimy, ‘Maverick Iraqi lawmaker accused of complicity with Israel,’ News Tribune, September 14, 2008).


 


Alusi is the only Iraqi politician in recent years to publicly visit Israel, a country declared an enemy of state by Iraqi law, and he used the occasion last week to accuse Iran of sponsoring terrorism and interfering in Iraqi affairs. At the end of his appearance he called for relations with Israel and other nations to fight terrorism. In recent weeks he has called for the resignation of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and others in the governing Shiite coalition he claims are deliberately opening a “security vacuum” which Iran will fill. Alusi’s trip to Israel last week was his second since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. He previously visited Israel in September 2004, resulting in his expulsion from Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress. Alusi subsequently ran as an independent and won a seat in parliament anyway. Two of his sons were later murdered in 2005 in one of several attempts that have been made on Alusi’s life.


 


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “There can be no clearer case of a brave, anti-Islamist Iraqi democrat and ally in the war on Islamist terror than Mithal Alusi – exactly the sort of ally the United States is duty-bound to support in any way possible. Not only is Alusi moved by the most noble patriotic sentiments of defending his country from Iranian subversion, not only has he bravely broken the totalitarian taboo on visiting Israel and seeking its friendship, but he has paid an enormous price for his convictions, including the loss of two sons.


 


“It is clearly incumbent on the Bush Administration to intervene and apply the greatest possible pressure on the Iraqi government, which owes the United States an enormous debt of gratitude for ridding the country of Saddam Hussein and paying in lives and treasure so that Iraq may become one day a proper democracy safeguarding the rule of law, to drop all charges against Alusi. If the Bush Administration stands by and does nothing, it will be a tragic and terrible failure that demonstrates to our enemies that the friendship and ideals of the United States stand for nothing. Such a failure will give a massive boost to the Islamists dedicated to America and Israel‘s destruction.”

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