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Israel officials met with Iraq counterparts, Israeli media reports

The Israeli Air Force's latest fighter jet, the F-35l seen in flight on December 13, 2016 [Israeli Air Force / WikiMedia]
Israeli Air Force's fighter jet on December 13, 2016 [Israeli Air Force / WikiMedia]

European diplomats revealed to Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Israeli officials have been holding secret meetings with Iraqi government officials.

In a long report published by the newspaper yesterday, Zvi Bar’el – Haaretz’s Middle Eastern affairs analyst – said that some of the meetings were even held in Israel.

In his report Bar’el speculated that Iraq is a new front or a secret partner for Israel, questioning two recent Israeli attacks on Iranian targets in Iraq, on which the Iraqi government remained silent.

The Israeli journalist said that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid a hasty visit to Iraqi capital Baghdad in May to tell Iraqi Prime Minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, to stop letting Iran bring missiles into the country and to remove those Iranian missiles already there.

Read: Israel unveils details of railway connection to Saudi, UAE

He continued: “According to several reports, including one that cited former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Alawi, Israel gave Pompeo photographs of the missiles and launch pads, and said in no uncertain terms that it would take action against them if Iraq didn’t remove them itself.”

He asked: “So why did Israel refrain from attacking those missiles until now? Israel believes [US President Donald] Trump gave it sweeping authorisation to defend itself last December, when, after returning from a visit to American forces in Iraq, he said, ‘We give Israel $4.5 billion a year. And they’re doing very well defending themselves.’ This remark was a response to criticism that the planned withdrawal of American forces from Syria could endanger Israel’s security.”

Bar’el also hinted at Russian knowledge of Israeli-Iraqi cooperation when he said that the flight from Israel to Iraq “would have exposed the planes to Russian and Syrian radar” as they “most likely would not have flown via Jordan” due to tension between the two countries.

Concluding his report, Bar’el said: “The last question, though, is what purpose the attack served. There’s nothing new about the presence of Iranian Zelzal and Fateh-110 missiles, which have ranges of 200 to 700 kilometres and are capable of hitting Israel.”

Read: Iraqi Journalists’ Syndicate to sack members visiting Israel

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