.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Iraqi-Israeli ties?


A powerful lobby is developing in Baghdad to promote the idea of diplomatic relations with Israel,
the new Iraqi ambassador to Great Britain told Haaretz on Thursday.

Dr. Salah al-Shaikhly, who was appointed two months ago, said that the issue will be raised after the general elections, and 'now is not the right time.' Al-Shaikhly told Haaretz that he did not have 'any problem with Israel or Israelis who wish to visit Iraq,' but he also noted, 'I really don't know what is the position of as yet, but you should know there is a strong lobby working for you in Iraq.'

When asked if he was referring to the Americans, Al-Shaikhly responded, 'No, I mean Iraqis, in Iraq, who want to establish relations with Israel, who are in favor of this idea. But the current situation is so uncertain, so volatile that any attempt to push this through, at this point, will most certainly backfire.

'The situation in Iraq is not directed at present by rational and clear thinking, but by strong emotions. The situation is very dangerous, like in the Israel-Palestine conflict and I would advise to proceed with caution. The right things need to be done at the right moment. We need to find the moment, like in music, when all the instruments are in tune. We have so many problems before we can consider the issue of Israel; we need to bring people together from all sections of the society, to persuade them violence never pays.'"