The Iraqi judiciary issued arrest warrants against a number of participants in the “Peace and Recovery” conference, which was held on Friday in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region.
In its final statement, the conference called for establishing peace in the region and normalizing relations with Israel. Some participants claimed that they were not consulted on the wording of the statement. Subsequent threats forced a large number of participants to withdraw and issue a public apology.
The Iraqi judiciary issued an arrest warrant against former MP Mithal Al-Alusi. He was the first Iraqi politician to visit Israel publicly, nearly a year after the fall of the former regime.
Alusi, who is currently in Germany to undergo surgery, has repeatedly voiced support for normalizing ties with Israel, however he denied having any connection with the aforementioned conference.
The former deputy had lost his two sons a year after his visit to Israel in an operation carried out by Al-Qaeda at the time. He accused the former Iraqi Minister of Culture, Asaad Al-Hashemi, of masterminding the assassination.
The arrest warrants also included Wissam Al-Hardan, head of the Iraq Awakening and one of the sheikhs of Anbar Province. The politician read the final statement of the conference, which included a paragraph on normalization with Israel.
After the issuance of an arrest warrant against him from a court in Anbar, Hardan denied being guilty, stressing in a statement that he had been invited to a conference that calls for peace and the recovery of Jewish money and property, but he was surprised when he was asked to read the statement that included a paragraph on normalization and peace with Israel.
Despite the statement, in which Hardan announced that Israel was the historical enemy of Arabs and Muslims, the Iraqi judiciary issued another arrest warrant against him with Mithal Al-Alusi and an employee in the Iraqi Ministry of Culture.
In the same context, a number of other participants issued statements, in which they did not only renounce their participation in the event, but held Hardan fully responsible as he invited them to attend a conference that would address the problems of the Awakening in Iraq, and vowing that their salaries would be increased.
The Kurdistan Regional Government announced that it was not involved in the conference and any of its outcomes.
In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, Official Spokesman Jutiar Adel said: “What was presented at the Erbil meeting does not at all express the opinion of the Kurdistan Regional Government. The government is committed to the constitution, which stipulates that formulating foreign policies is one of the exclusive competencies of the federal state.”
The spokesman added: “The government has taken legal measures against the organizers of this conference because it was held without the knowledge of the regional government.”
Note: An earlier version of this article implied that the apologies and withdrawals of some participants were a direct result of the final statement's referral to regional peace. This has been edited for clarification.