Israel and Iraq: Taking the Civilian Path to Improve Relations

Dr. Ronen Zeidel August 2018

This research examines the potential for cooperation between Israel and Iraq, the largest Arab country to Israel’s east. Iraq is changing and is undergoing reconstruction following a series of wars and crises. It works to bring together its diverse ethnic and religious groups, and to navigate through the regional geopolitical conflict between Sunni states and Iran. Israeli decision makers tend to ignore the centrality of Iraq, and to focus only on the Kurds there. Israel generally sees Iraq as a country that lost regional significance following the Gulf wars, and as a failed state under Iranian dominance. This, however, does not reflect reality and needs to change. While the Iraqi leadership is not likely to alter its official policies towards Israel anytime soon, there is a chance for a bottom-up process of change. Israel-Iraq relations can benefit from positive mutual images fostered by the JewishIraqi community, and from existing people-to-people interactions via social media. Practical cooperation can be developed in the fields of trade, infrastructures, agriculture, and tourism, and this can serve as a basis for future diplomatic ties between the two countries.

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