Progress in Iraq is a relative thing

Mithal al-Alusi is a member of the Iraqi parliament. A week ago, using a German passport, he visited Israel and attended a conference at the International Institute for Counterterrorism. His purpose was to support Israel in its battle with what he sees as a common enemy — Iranian backed terrorists.

It wasn’t al-Alusi’s first visit to the Jewish state. He traveled there in 2005. Shortly thereafter, his two sons were killed in what is generally thought to have been an attempt on al-Alusi’s life.

This time, al-Alusi faces prosecution under a 1950s law after his fellow members of parliament voted overwhelmingly to strip him of his immunity. Under Iraqi law, the crime of visiting Israel is punishable by death. According to the Jerusalem Post, however, such a sentence is unlikely here. Instead, the government may be content to expel him from parliament. But the possibility of assassination remains.

Al-Alusi, a Sunni, blames the reaction to his visit on Iran’s influence over the Iraqi government. He may be right. Or it may be that hatred of Israel is one thing upon which Iraq’s Sunnis and its Iranian influenced Shiites can agree.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy has nothing substantive to say on the subject. This “is an issue for the Iraqi parliament, not the US Mission to Iraq,” said spokesman Armand Cucciniello. That’s not an unreasonable response, I suppose, as long as all we’re talking about is expulsion from parliament.

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