BAGHDAD – Iraq’s parliament faces a host of pressing issues: how to divide the country’s oil wealth, how to organize provincial elections, how to sort out the future of U.S. troops on Iraqi soil.
But the yelling and fist-waving that came during Sunday’s raucous session had nothing to do with these things. Instead, lawmakers were debating what to do about one of their own, Mithal al-Alusi, whose recent visit to Israel has stirred angry emotions.
After a combative session, parliamentarians voted to lift al-Alusi’s parliamentary immunity and seek charges against him for visiting the Jewish state. They also said the fiery, secular politician should be prevented from traveling abroad again.
Al-Alusi, who accuses Iraq’s Shiite Muslim-led government of being in the pocket of Iran, reacted angrily during the parliament session, which was broadcast live on Iraqi television.
“You are selling Iraq! You are pushing the region to war!” he bellowed, alleging that many Iraqi lawmakers are collaborating with Iranian agents. “I will visit and I will go wherever there is an issue of interest to Iraq.”
News of al-Alusi’s visit to Israel, which took place last week, emerged over the weekend. It was his third trip to the Jewish state since 2004. The first got him evicted from the post he had held in Iraq’s first post-Saddam Hussein government and earned him the wrath of many Iraqis, as well as a host of assassination attempts. One of those ended with his two sons dying in a hail of bullets in 2005.