Iraq’s Sadr Slams President for Not Signing Ban on Israel Ties

Sadr's comments seem likely to harm Salih's chances of another term

In late May, Iraq’s parliament passed a bill forbidding and criminalizing all ties with Israel. The bill forbids officials, media, and others from establishing relations with Israel, punishable by death.

Iraqi President Barham Salih did not sign the bill, and this is being made a huge deal by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who says it is “very, very shameful” of the president to favor ties with Israel.

Salih’s office denies any support for ties with Israel, saying he had the law published already, and emphasized his long support for the Palestinians. The bill goes into effect whether signed or not, so this is entirely academic.

That’s not to mean it doesn’t matter, as Salih was still holding out hope to stay in power, and Sadr’s deep criticism likely makes him politically risky, and could cost him support for another round as president.

Salih was a long-shot anyhow, as a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Though a Kurd is meant to be president, it is widely expected a member of the Kurdish Democrats will secure the job this time around.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.