Volume 2, No. 1 – March 1998
CROSSING THE RUBICON?: IRAQ AND THE ARAB-ISRAELI PEACE PROCESS
By Ofra Bengio
Such reasoning sounds fanciful, but the question of Iraq’s stand on the Arab-Israeli peace process is both intriguing and more complex than it might seem. Given the crisis involving Iraq, examining this issue becomes even more interesting.
Since the Kuwait war ended in 1991, Baghdad was perceived as sending ambiguous signals regarding its stance on the issue. Thus, for example, President Saddam Husayn reportedly told Arab officials in early 1993 that Iraq’s missile attacks on Israel had avenged Israel’s attack on Iraq’s nuclear reactor in June 1981. Hence there was no longer any cause for hostility between the two.2 Two years later, however, when speaking on the Iraqi army’s feats during that war he stated: ‘I believe that the Arab nation has the right to ask: Thirty nine missiles? [the number fired at Israel by Iraq in 1991] Who will fire the 40th?’3 In the face of such utterances and others, which will be discussed later, what was Baghdad’s authentic stance? What was strategic and what was tactical? What was the impact of the Arab-Israeli peace-process on Baghdad and what are the prospects, if at all, for her to join it?
This article’s aim is to shed some light on the complicated Iraqi-Israeli relationships; to analyze the historical and the more immediate motives for Iraq’s stance vis-a-vis Israel and to find out to what extent Iraq’s different internal and external problems have motivated it.
IRAQ-ISRAEL: ‘UNIQUE’ RELATIONSHIP
Iraq’s unique stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict has given it a potential impact on the peace-process unique among the confrontation states, as well as among those of the periphery. Although Iraq has no common border with Israel and thus was not a ‘confrontation’ state like Syria, Jordan and Egypt, it has behaved like one. Thus, it participated in all the major Arab-Israeli wars in far more than the symbolic manner of other non-confrontation states (such as Saudi Arabia, or Libya). In fact, Iraq sent at times one-third of its armed forces to the front.4 Unlike the confrontation states, however, Iraq never signed the armistice agreement of 1949 with Israel, nor did it accept UN resolutions 242 and 338.
Another unique feature is that in the last 30 years, Iraqi-Israeli relations ceased to be merely a function of the general Arab-Israeli conflict, (as is the case with other countries of the periphery like Saudi Arabia or Kuwait) but assumed some strong bilateral aspects as well.
A third unique element is that Iraq was the only Arab country to have initiated hostilities against Israel (during the 1991 Gulf war) without organizing a coalition with one or more than one Arab country.
Finally, it is the only Arab country to have used unconventional weapons against Israel and the only attacker to whom Israel did not retaliate.
Different geostrategic, political, ideological and historical factors accounted for Iraq’s position vis-a-vis Israel in the 20th century. One important element which may help explain Iraq’s behavior — not just toward Israel but in the region as a whole — are its geostrategic constraints. An oil country such as Iraq with such a small outlet to the sea (barely 70 km. at the best of times, that is when Shatt al-Arab river was open) has always felt a kind of strategic strangulation, seeking to break through it by laying pipelines via the neighboring countries.5 The Iraqi-Haifa Oil Pipeline, which operated from 1935 until 1948, reflected such deep-seated Iraqi interests in the area.6 The closure of the pipeline after the 1948 war has left Iraq with a latent desire to reach out to the Mediterranean Sea, and hence also with direct state interest in the conflict, besides the all-Arab one.
Closely related to this is Iraq’s geopolitical position. Its remoteness form the area of the fighting and the fact that it has no common border with Israel affected its behavior in the conflict:
— Baghdad could afford the ‘luxury’ of adopting a radical stance without having to pay a direct price for it, as Syria or Egypt had to, for example. Thus, in spite of the fact that Iraq participated in all the major wars, the fighting was never carried over to its territory, nor did it lose any land to Israel.
— Similarly, Baghdad could more easily disengage itself from the Arab-Israeli conflict when more urgent tasks called for at home or in other fronts.
— A third important element is Iraq’s location between the Fertile Crescent and the Gulf, which has caused her to fluctuate throughout modern history between two orientations. Iraq could not afford being ‘engaged’ on the two fronts simultaneously. Hence, when the one became the primary focus, the other was put in the shade and vice-versa. Iraq’s participation in the October 1973 war, for example, required the withdrawal of its forces from the internal front in Kurdistan as well as the Iranian front.7 On the other hand, Iraq’s war against Iran all but nullified Iraq’s role in the Arab-Israeli front. The only case in which Iraq ‘combined’ the two orientations was during the Gulf crisis when it first made a linkage between its withdrawal from Kuwait and that of Israel from the occupied territories and then when it used missiles to open the second front, Israel, at a low cost in military resources.
On the political level, Iraq, like other Arab countries, used the Arab-Israeli conflict for two different purposes. Internally, it employed the issue to divert attention from problems and difficulties at home and directing the people’s frustration at the regime against a different enemy, while at same time building unity at home. Externally, it used it as a lever for achieving leadership role in the Arab world.
While such political considerations motivated almost all Iraqi regimes since the inception of the Iraqi state, the Ba’th party, which came to power in 1968, differed from all of them in that it anchored this activity in ideological tenets. As in the Syrian case, the Iraqi Ba’th’s commitment to the cause of Palestine has been at the core of the Ba’th doctrine, hence the additional difficulty in disentangling itself from the issue even if it wanted to do so.
Finally, on the historical level, the invasions of the land of Israel by different ancient Mesopotamian kingdoms as well as by Muslim forces both gave an inspiration and an excellent propaganda tool for rulers such as Saddam Husayn to try and repeat ancient glories, likening himself to Nebuchadnezzar or Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi.
FROM GENERAL TO ‘BILATERAL’ CONFLICT
Roughly speaking, it is possible to divide the history of ‘Iraqi-Israeli’ relations into three major phases.
The first one, between the inception of the Iraqi state and the early 1960s, was characterized by the fact that Iraq was involved in the general Arab-Israeli conflict, but it was purely an external issue.
The second phase, from the early 1960s to the early 1980s, witnessed Israel’s involvement in the Iraqi Kurdish internal issue. Although limited in time and place, this support introduced the theory of the American-Israeli-Iranian conspiracy against Iraq.8 It proved to Iraq that although it had no common border with Israel, it could pay a price for involvement in the conflict, and finally it inserted a strong bilateral element into the general Arab-Israeli conflict. Israel’s support to the Kurds was perceived as threatening the very sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Iraqi state. For Iraq this support was no less than an attempt to establish a ‘second Israel’ in northern Iraq.9
The third phase, which began in the early 1980s, caught Iraq between two conflicting trends, a radical and a more moderate one, thus blurring Baghdad’s genuine stance.10 The causes for Iraqi radicalization were manifold, foremost of which was the Israeli attack on the nuclear reactor in June 1981.11 The attack constituted a severe moral, military and political blow for Iraq, opening the ‘strategic account’ between the two, because it damaged the regime’s prestige and its symbol of power; the Iraqi army proved completely helpless; for the first time in the history of their relations, Israel figured as a real threat to Iraqi security and for the first time, the military initiative passed to Israeli hands. Another cause for the Iraqi radicalization was Israeli arms sale to Iran during the Iraqi-Iranian war, as well as Israeli declarations ‘supporting’ prolongation of that war.
The picture, however, was much more complicated because, along with this line, a more moderate one was at play as well. The long war with Iran prompted Iraq to seek internal and all-Arab support while diverting attention from the Arab-Israeli conflict. Another consideration was Iraq’s desire to renew diplomatic relations with the United States (cut in 1967). A more moderate tone toward Israel was considered the minimal price to be paid for the success of such an endeavor. Similarly, by toning down its radicalism and posing as more moderate than Iran, Iraq may have hoped to discourage Israeli arms sales to Iran as well as to receive Israel’s tacit agreement to a new projected oil pipeline from Iraq to ‘Aqaba.
Iraq’s dual and ambiguous stance was maintained throughout the Iraqi-Iranian war. On the whole, however, there was a kind of division of labor, whereby Husayn and the Iraqi media propagated the more radical line at home, while lower-ranking officials presented a more moderate one before the Western public. One example may suffice. Zionism, it was stated in Baghdad, was ‘a racist, reactionary and fascist ideology’ and as such Ba’thi ideology considered the Arab-Israeli conflict to be ‘a life and death struggle’ or ‘a question of to be or not to be.’ For ‘the continued existence of `Israel’ [sic] meant the impossibility of realizing fully any of the Arabs’ objectives.’12 Of the many speeches which Husayn delivered in the 1980s, only once was he quoted by the Iraqi media as uttering a more moderate tone: ‘Israelis,’ (but not the state of Israel as some Western newspapers wrongly translated him) were entitled, he said, to ‘conditions of security’ (wad’ min al-aman).’13
Obviously, this last statement, which was made to the American Congressman Stephen Solarz, was calculated to prepare the ground for the resumption of relations between the United States and Iraq (which occurred in early 1984) and to win U.S. backing for Iraq’s war against Iran. Concurrently, Iraqi officials like Tariq ‘Aziz (then foreign minister) or Nizar Hamdun (then Iraqi ambassador to the United States), issued declarations to the effect that Iraq would not oppose a peaceful settlement to the Palestinian problem and that was not seeking another Arab-Israeli war.14 What was even more perplexing were leaks of secret contacts between Iraq and Israel, especially in 1987. Husayn Kamil Hasan, President Husayn’s cousin and son-in-law who defected to ‘Amman in August 1995 and the journalist Sa’d al-Bazzaz who had defected two years earlier, reported on such low-key contacts. Kamil Hasan even asserted that the first such (unsuccessful) move was made in 1978.15
For all its ambiguity, the Iraqi stance gave rise in 1987 to what was termed in Israel the ‘Iraqi option,’ namely a reassessment of Israel’s political orientation in the Gulf war and a possible shift towards Iraq. One of the advocates of this change was the then vice-prime minister Shimon Peres.16 Those who supported a change raised the following arguments: the policy of ‘peripheral alliances’ initiated by David Ben-Gurion in the 1950s, which advocated alliances with non-Arab countries, had become anachronistic; Iran was no less anti-Israel than Iraq; a pro-Iraqi stance might become crucial for the peace process. A tilt toward Iraq in its ‘hour of despair’ might move it to reciprocate on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Above all, it was argued, Iraq had abandoned its radically anti-Israeli position and moved to a more moderate one.17
But concurrently with this Israeli conciliatory tone, the Iraqi media significantly increased its attacks against Israel and its very right to exist.18 Indeed, Israel’s inability to differentiate between Iraq’s strategic and tactical posture was one of the major causes for the ‘strategic surprise’ in which it was caught in the second Gulf war.
THE ‘STRATEGIC SURPRISE’
Just days after the Israeli attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor on 7 June 1981, President Saddam Husayn declared that Iraq would not be discouraged by the attack but rather ‘transform lessons into programs.’ He further called on countries to assist the Arabs in acquiring ‘atomic bombs,’ revealing that Iraq has already approached some friendly countries about a ‘kind of weapon that would make Israel hesitant to implement a strike.’19
Eight years later, when it was free from the war with Iran, Iraq could be more specific on the type of weapon it possessed: ‘Long-range missiles capable of reaching the Zionist entity and destroying it in its strategic depth.’ An Iraqi paper went so far as to predict that by the end of the 20th century Israel would no longer exist.20 These were indeed the prelude to Saddam Husayn’s threats a year later to the effect that Iraq will make fire ‘eat up half of Israel’ if the latter tried to do anything against Iraq. Rejecting the notion that his declaration was impulsive or emotional, Saddam Husayn reported later that it had been decided upon by the state’s leadership.21 It took less than a year for these threats to materialize into the missile attacks on Israel during the 2nd Gulf war.
The missile attacks on Israel were significant on different scores. They put an end to the ‘decade of ambiguities’ vis-a-vis Israel, demonstrating that the radical stance was the strategic one. As far as Iraq was concerned, the attacks provided an outlet to the feelings of vengeance against the Israeli attack on the nuclear reactor ten years earlier. That such feelings were deeply entrenched in Iraq was shown by statements in 1989 to the effect that ‘the special circumstances’ that had prevented Iraq from retaliating on the attack on the nuclear reactor no longer existed.22 Linked to this was its significance as a morale-boosting both for the leadership and the population at large.
The fact that Israel did not react was interpreted by the Iraqi leadership and the media as an inability on its part to do so. Indeed ever since, Iraq continued to flaunt the missile attacks as the most important achievement in Arab history, leaving Israel vulnerable and paralyzed.23 By hitting Israeli towns for the first time since 1948, Iraq claimed to have destroyed the very concept of Israeli security and made the possibility of defeating Zionism and liberating Palestine a realistic one.24 Similarly, the attacks gave a consolation of sorts to the Iraqi masses who felt they were not the only ones to have suffered missile attacks. Needless to say that the attacks were used as a propaganda ploy for mobilizing support among the Arab masses in general, and the Palestinians in particular.
Much less encouraging for Iraq, however, was the fact that the Gulf war enhanced the peace process in the Arab-Israeli conflict. This was indeed one of the ironical results of the war, putting into relief a linkage between the Gulf and the Fertile Crescent, but not in the way Saddam Husayn expected.
IRAQ VIS-A-VIS THE PEACE PROCESS: NEW DILEMMAS
The peace process which began in October 1991 at the Madrid Conference constituted a severe blow for Iraq for different reasons. The very initiation of the process by the United States shortly after the end of the Gulf war was perceived by Baghdad as having been facilitated by its own defeat and at its expense.25 The situation isolated and further marginalized Iraq, as Baghdad could neither participate in the process nor veto the participation of others. Both its enemies and friends in the Arab camp stood to reap the fruits of its own painful war.
Baghdad’s instinct was to cling to its old rhetoric and to escalate it even further, using it as a vehicle for airing grievances over other Arabs’ behavior as well as its frustration over the ever-diminishing Iraqi role. One argument was that the ‘mother of battles’ did not fragment the Arab world but rather rekindled the fire of revolution, Arab resurrection and Arab unity. Another was that by attacking Israel, Iraq saved all the Arabs. At the same time, Iraq criticized ‘America’s Arabs’ for conducting peace negotiations with Israel, warning that intercourse with Israel was prohibited in the same way that a believer was prohibited from mentioning Satan’s name. By contrast it, was asserted, Iraq remained faithful to the Pan-Arab cause of liberating Palestine.26
Anti-Israeli attacks were escalated again. Furthermore, a new vein of antisemitism was added with the publication in an Iraqi newspaper of the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ pointing to the ‘connection’ between them and the American scheme for ‘new world order.’27 Similarly, Saddam Husayn’s son, ‘Udayy, published a series of 12 articles in which he challenged Israel’s very right to exist, finding support to this even in the Qur’an. ‘Udayy maintained that time was in the Arab’s favor and Israel’s nuclear capability would be balanced by ‘other weapons of comprehensive destruction’ which would be available to the Arabs. In any case, Israel had lost its strategic advantage to Iraq in the ‘mother of the battles.’ ‘Udayy concluded that ‘the extinction of the Zionist entity was a necessity dictated both by the will of God, and the need to recover exclusive Arab rights in Palestine.’28
The argument raised in Israel that Saddam Husayn might support or even join the peace process as a gesture of goodwill to ‘Arafat, then, proved completely baseless. In fact, the Gaza-Jericho agreement signed on 20 August 1993 between Israel and the PLO constituted another blow for Iraq. It undermined one of the most important tenets of Ba’thi ideology: the liberation of Palestine by force. It dealt a blow to Iraqi aspirations of leading a radical Arab camp with the Palestine issue at its core. It seized from Iraq an important political and ideological card which it had ably used during the Gulf crisis. Finally, it raised fears in Baghdad that the precedent of legitimizing a new entity in the Middle East might set an example for recognizing a Kurdish one in Iraq.
Thus, far from supporting ‘Arafat’s move, Iraq lashed out at it as ‘the deal of the century’ for liquidating the Palestinian question and threatening ‘the very existence of the Arab nation.’ Describing the move as a disaster and a catastrophe far greater than the one brought about by Sadat, the Iraqi media called for treating the ‘traitor’ ‘Arafat in the way Sadat was punished.29
Iraq’s fear of losing the Palestinian Card was coupled with fears of a changing regional order from which it would be excluded. Iraq was particularly opposed to the notion of a ‘new Middle East Market’ which it called an ‘Israeli plot’ to turn Arab countries into ‘economic and political colonies’ in ‘Greater Israel from the Euphrates to the Nile.’30
A sore point for Iraq was the fact that the Arab countries were lifting the boycott on Israel while at the same time remaining silent or even encouraging (in the Kuwaiti and the Saudi case) continuing sanctions on Iraq. Another concern was a strategic one: Arab countries were negotiating peace with Israel without conditioning them on Israel’s dismantling of its nuclear weapon, while at the same time Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction were being dismantled systematically, leaving it between two countries with supposed nuclear capabilities — Israel and Iran.
The swift developments in the regional arena occasioned by the 2nd Gulf war, caught Iraq yet again in a dilemma and increased the tension between the strategic and tactical line. Thus, as in the 1980s, concurrently with the very radical line at home, there began to emerge, since 1993, a more moderate or conciliatory one abroad. Or so it seemed.
The first hints were made by Israeli sources which began in 1993 to leak reports on tentative moves toward an Israeli-Iraqi rapprochement. One of them, Shishi, reported that the contacts were being facilitated by European and Middle Eastern figures who sought to set up a secret negotiating track with Iraq in a bid to include Iraq in the peace process. Shishi further claimed that Tariq ‘Aziz, deputy prime minister, and Nizar Hamdun, the ambassador to the UN, supported the idea and had conveyed it to Saddam Husayn, who did not reject it outright. The paper argued that as Iraq had no common border with Israel, and as the Palestinian problem was on the verge of solution, ‘Iraq’s hostility toward Israel is also disappearing.’ Recommending such a move to Israel, it said that it would be the ‘most significant tactical and strategic achievement’ of the Israeli government, as an agreement with Iraq would rush Syria to the negotiating table and counterbalance the Iranian threat.31
In the following months, and especially after the summer, there was a steady flow of reports by Israeli and various non-Iraqi sources on secret contacts between the two countries. A general picture of the reports which tended to be speculative and at times contradictory, is as follows: Contacts took place at the UN, in Europe, and in Morocco, and were facilitated by the PLO, Russia, France, and other politicians and businessmen in Europe and the Arab world. The talks covered the following issues: the possibility of reopening the Kirkuk-Haifa pipeline (closed since 1948); Iraqi absorption of some 400,000 Palestinian refugees from Lebanon in southern Iraq; and the opening of interest sections in the two countries.
Israel’s part in the deal would be to lobby Washington to lift the embargo on Iraq. Israeli figures who reportedly advocated the opening toward Iraq were President Ezer Weizman, Housing Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, and Police Minister Moshe Shahal, with the latter two reportedly taking part in the contacts.32 At the beginning of September, an Arab Knesset Member, ‘Abd al-Wahhab Darawsha sent a cable to Saddam Husayn requesting a visit to Baghdad of a Joint Arab and Jewish Israeli delegation.33 However, when asked about such contacts, Israeli officials including Prime Minister Rabin totally denied these reports, saying that Israel would not take any move behind America’s back, and that in any case Iraq’s motive was tactical, aimed at improving its image.
Throughout 1994, there was only one public indication from Baghdad of a possible change in attitude. In an interview with the Jordan Times, Tariq ‘Aziz echoed Shishi’s views, by saying: ‘Iraq is not a neighbor of Israel. We don’t have a bilateral dispute with Israel. So when they [the Arabs and the Israelis] fight and when they agree it doesn’t affect Iraq.’ He further asserted that the days when Iraq sought to speak for the Palestinians had gone, and that Iraq had never sought to destroy Israel. Later in the year, however, ‘Aziz denied ‘any’ contacts with Israel. So did the Iraqi newspapers, one of which termed the reports ‘fabrications’ and a ‘dirty new game to blackmail Iraq.’ Another asserted that, contrary to other Arab countries, Iraq would never raise the ‘white flag’ and recognize Israel.34
While it was impossible to know the exact nature of these contacts, if they existed at all, it could be safely assumed that Iraq and Israel were engaged in a complicated game which served the interests of both, namely, sending trial balloons toward each other by leaking reports on real or imaginary contacts and then denying such contacts altogether. Israel’s interest in this game was quite clear, seeking to impress upon Baghdad that it could be instrumental in lifting the embargo, but at a price. In addition, such report might advance the peace process by helping to convince the Jordanian public that Jordan was not alone in moving toward peace, and to pressure Syria to accelerate the process before its rival, Iraq, would do so. Finally, the denials were directed to American ears, proving that Israel was firmly behind American policy and was not considering contacts with Iraq.
Iraq also directed its moves to three different audiences. It hoped to use Israel as a conduit for modifying US policy. It sought to change its image in the world to that of a moderate and peace-seeking country, and at the same time to present itself before the Iraqi and Arab masses as the only Arab country which has remained loyal to the Pan-Arab principles and ideals. In any case, not even the slightest change actually took place in relations between Iraq and Israel.
The trauma of the Gulf war and the ongoing embargo has magnified the Ba’thi regime’s dilemmas regarding its internal and foreign policies of which the peace process was only a part, and a small one at that. These dilemmas put into relief the ongoing clash between the regime’s strategy and tactics, between realpolitik and myth-making, and between interests and modes of action which keep repeating themselves, severely harming Iraqi interests and needs.
Regarding the chances of Saddam’s Iraq joining the peace process, one major obstacle has been the United States. Indeed, it is one of the rare cases (alongside Libya), where the United States has consistently discouraged or even vetoed such a possible move. Of course, Iraq itself, it must be stressed, has not yet adopted a strategic decision on this matter.
To join in peacemaking, Iraq could benefit by lifting sanctions, ending its isolation and joining old allies such as Jordan or the PLO, and reopening the old Kirkuk-Haifa oil pipeline. But on the other side of the balance-sheet there are important considerations and powerful instincts. The regime has identified the embargo and its severe impact on the Iraqi people with the United States and Israel. Accordingly, anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiments might continue for many years to come and might hamper strategic opening toward the West, even by the next regime.
Nor does Ba’thi Iraq seem willing to relinquish the Palestinian card, believing that it is still possible to torpedo what it terms the peace between governments and not nations. Another point which has to do with the very ‘make-up’ of this regime, is that throughout its rule it has distinguished itself in initiating conflicts and wars internally and externally, but never succeeded in striking peace treaties or solving them. At best it signed ‘ceasefire’ agreements (such as with the Kurds in 1970 or with Iran in 1975), which it later renounced.
In addition, the fact that Iraq has entangled itself in direct wars with four regional countries (Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Israel) has made the solution of any of them even more difficult. In any case, being the oldest and geographically most remote one, the Arab-Israeli — or for that matter the Iraqi-Israeli conflict — is even less pressing for solution than the others. Moreover, Iraq does not feel threatened by a possible Israeli invasion the way it does, for example, from Iran.
Another unique point is that unlike Arab countries of the Gulf, for example, whose attitude towards the peace process is mainly a function of the general Arab stance (and perhaps even as a means of better defending themselves against Iraq), that of Iraq is also a function of its other regional problems. Thus, for example, its tendency to join the peace process might be greatly influenced by its relations with Iran. Iraqi attempts to reach peace agreement with fundamentalist Iran might be a disincentive for an agreement with Israel. Similarly, the Turkish-Israeli strategic alignment forged in 1996 might become another
disincentive for such a move.
For all of these reasons, Saddam Husayn’s regime seems currently uninterested, and perhaps even institutionally incapable, of initiating strategic change toward Israel. If, however, Saddam Husayn were to change his strategy for ending the embargo from one of defiance to the tactics of compromise, an opening toward Israel might be a card he could play.
As for a post-Saddam Iraq, expectations are that a new regime would need support from the West and the Gulf Arab monarchies for reconstruction or even survival, and would consequently be more amenable to strategic changes, including ones toward Israel. Of course this would depend on the current state of the peace process itself. Moreover, it can be strongly argued that a regime seen as being propped up by the West (which had punished Iraq so severely) might not be popular or strong enough to effect strategic changes or at least to maintain them for long.
1. Shmuel Toledano in Ha’aretz, 5 August 1994.
2. Ha’aretz, 3 March 1993.
3. Babil, 7 January 1995.
4. An Iraqi source stressed that Iraq’s participation in the 1973 war was not symbolical, as was expected, but included 3/4 of its air force; 2/3 of its armored force and 1/5 of its infantry, Dawr al-Jaysh al-‘Iraqi fi harb Tishrin 1973, Beirut, al-mu’assasa al-‘Arabiyya lil-dirasat wal-nashr, 1975, p. 5. For Iraq’s size of expeditionary forces in the different wars see, The Iraqi Army in the Yom Kippur War (Hebrew) (Tel Aviv, Ma’arakhot, 1986), Introduction, pp. 12-27.
5. Sa’d al-Bazzaz blamed the ‘unjust geography’ for Iraq’s psychological feelings of isolation, Harb talid ukhra, (Amman, al-ahliyya lil-nashr wal-tawzi, 1992), pp. 13-14.
6. For this and a general discussion on Iraq’s stance see, Michael Eppel, The Palestine Conflict in the History of Modern Iraq, (London, Frank Cass, 1994), pp. 45-46).
7. Immediately after the end of the war, Iraq mended fences with Iran, with a view to transforming the greater part of the forces deployed on the Iranian front to Syria, Dawr al-Jaysh, p. 46.
8. For this support, see Ofra Bengio, The Kurdish Revolt in Iraq (Hebrew), (Tel Aviv Hakibutz Hameuhad, 1989) pp. 83-87.
9. Mahmud al-Durra, Al-Qadiyya Al-Kurdiyya (2nd ed.) (Beirut, Manshurat dar al-tali’a, 1966), p. 388.
10. For a general discussion of Iraqi-Israel relations at the end of the 1980s see, Amatzia Baram, ‘After the Iran-Iraq War – What?’ The Jerusalem Quarterly, No. 49, Winter 1989, pp. 85-96; Laurie A. Mylroie, ‘After the Guns fell Silent: Iraq in the Middle East,’ Middle East Journal, Vol. 43, No. 1, Winter 1989, pp. 51-67.
11. On the attack see, Shlomo Nakdimon, Tammuz in Flames (in Hebrew, New and updated edition) (Tel Aviv, Idanim Publisher, 1993).
12. Al-Thawra, 21 May 1987.
13. Qasdisiyyat Saddam, 7 January 1983.
14. E.g., AFP, 7 January — From U.S. Department of Commerce, Foreign Broadcast Information Service Daily Report (hereafter, DR), 10 January 1983; Jerusalem Post, 26 August 1987.
15. Ha’aretz, 30 June 1995; Le vif l’express (Brussels), 6 October — DR, 10 October 1995.
16. Jerusalem Post, 26 November 1987.
17. E.g., Jerusalem Post 23 January; Davar, 13 February; Ha’aretz, 8 November; Ma’ariv, 13 December 1987.
18. E.g., Al-‘Iraq, 27 January; Al-Thawra, 14, 15, 21, 22 May, 9, 17 June, 2, 8 July; Al-Jumhuriyya, 3, 10 September 1987.
19. R. Baghdad, 23, 30 June, 13 July — DR, 24 June, 2, 14 July 1981.
20. Al-Jumhuriyya, 14 March; Al-Thawra, 20, 26 March 1989.
21. Al-Thawra, 3 April 1990; Al-Muharrir, 8 May — DR, 9 May 1990.
22. Al-Thawra, 21 January 1989.
23. Alif Ba , 19 January 1994.
24. Al-Jumhuriyya, 18 January, 1, 7, 12 February 1994.
25. Years later these feelings were echoed in al-Thawra which complained that the Madrid Conference was the outcome of the attack on Iraq. Al-Thawra, 28 July 1995.
26. Al-Thawra, 6 April; Babil, 30 March, 6 May, 7 June 1992.
27. Al-Qadisiyya, 5 February; Babil, 30 May 1992. For earlier anti-Semitic trends see, Shulamit Binah, The Anti-Jewish Farhud in Baghdad, 1941-Jewish and Arab Perspectives, (M.A. Thesis, The City University of New York, 1989), pp. 117-127.
28. E.g., Babil, 12, 18, 20, 26, 27 April 1993.
29. Al-Jumhuriyya, 18, 27 September, 30 October; INA, 21, 22 September — DR, 22, 23 September 1993. Al-Thawra, 10 February — DR, 17 February 1994.
30. Al-Jumhuriyya, 2 March, Babil, 1 August — DR, 11 August 1994.
31. Shishi, 25 February 1994.
32. E.g., Foreign Report, 31 March; Al-Hayat, 23 April, 21 June, al-Sinnara, Yedi’ot Aharanot, Ha’aretz, 5 August, Ruz al-Yussuf, 29 August — DR, 31 August; Liwa al-Rafidayn, 25 September 1994.
33. Jordanian Times, 2 June, Al-Muharrir, 5 September — DR, 12 September 1994.
34. Babil, 14 August — DR, 14 August; Al-Thawra, 21 August, Al-Ra’y (‘Amman) 17 September — DR, 19 September 1994.
Ofra Bengio is a Senior Research Fellow in the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle East and African Studies, Tel Aviv University, and author of The Kurdish Revolt in Iraq (in Hebrew), Hakibutz Hameuhad, 1989 and Saddam’s Word: Political Discourse in Iraq, Oxford University Press, 1998.
King Husayn of Jordan toyed with the idea of cooperation between Israel, Jordan and a post-Saddam Iraq which, he envisaged, would join the peace process. Even earlier, an ex-Israeli official called for initiating peace talks with Iraq maintaining that Saddam Husayn would repay Yasir ‘Arafat’s past support by backing ‘Arafat and joining the peace process; Iraq’s desperate economic situation might encourage such a move, especially since there was no ‘bilateral conflict’ between Iraq and Israel over water, settlements and borders, or even a common border between the two. The only obstacle he foresaw, was the US opposition to such a move.1