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August 30, 2016 1:45 pm

Iraqi Columnist Says Arab Focus on Palestinian Plight Responsible for ‘River of Blood’ in His Country

avatar by Lea Speyer

Email a copy of "Iraqi Columnist Says Arab Focus on Palestinian Plight Responsible for ‘River of Blood’ in His Country" to a friend
An Iraq car bombing in 2008. Photo: SPC Ronald Shaw Jr., U.S. Army.

A car bombing in Iraq in 2008. Photo: SPC Ronald Shaw Jr., US Army.

An Iraqi columnist slammed the Arab world for ignoring the deadly suffering of his countrymen in favor of the Palestinians, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported.

In an op-ed last month in the Iraqi daily Al-Zaman, Haidar Sabi even attributed his country’s predicament to this very issue.

“The Palestinian problem was one of the main reasons for the destruction of Iraq and the ruination of its people!” he wrote, continuing, “Are the devastation and destruction afflicting Iraq not as great as the destruction of Palestine? The answer is right before you.”

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 Citing UN data, Sabi then compared casualties. “Iraq suffered some 2,000 deaths and injuries” in July alone, he wrote. “How many Palestinians fell [in this time period]?”

Turning to a comparison of quality of life and monthly income, Sabi countered the “assumption that the Iraqis are floating in a lake of oil while the Palestinians haven’t one gallon of it in all their land,” claiming that “in Iraq more [people are under] the poverty line than in Palestine, particularly in recent years.”

Regarding Arab assistance, Sabi took issue with those countries that “provide all manner of aid to the Palestinian people,” but turn a blind eye to Iraq. The Arab world, he wrote, “drinks today from the river of blood that never would have flowed” had it not taken “regrettable positions and hostility towards the Iraqi people.” In contrast, he said, “The Palestinians are welcome in every Arab country in which [they] settle, and many of billions [of dollars] are showered on them.”

Those Arabs who lent their support to Palestinians to “highlight the oppression of Jerusalem…were just as free to raise their voices to announce the oppression of their [Iraqi] brothers,” Sabi wrote.

In a final comparison highlighting what he considers the Arab world’s hypocrisy, Sabi wrote that despite Iraq’s being a supporter of the Palestinian cause, “some 1,500” Palestinian suicide bombers have carried out attacks inside the country, killing scores of Iraqis.

Sabi concluded that Iraqis must begin to put themselves first, and focus on rebuilding their identity and their country. “[Only] when Iraq is ours [again] and is run by pure Sumerian and Assyrian Iraqis will we worry about [events] abroad and formulate a plan to support weak peoples,” he wrote, adding that “last among them will be the Palestinian people.”

According to MEMRI, Sabi is not the only Iraqi writer to express such a sentiment over the past year.

In February, for example, Haidar Jarallah wrote in the online Saudi daily Elaph that the large number of Palestinian suicide bombers in Iraq has prompted speculation over whether the Iraqis should stop sympathizing with the Palestinian struggle and instead normalize relations with Israel.

In another article, published last July in the pro-Iranian Iraqi daily Al-Akhbar, writer Jawad Al-Matayr complained about Palestinian ingratitude for the Iraqis’ long-standing support.

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