Iraq Criminalizes Waving of Israeli Flag Following Kurdish Independence Rallies

Iraq's parliament officially made flying Israel's flag in public spaces a criminal act

Kurds carry Israeli and Kurdish flags to show their support for the upcoming September 25th independence referendum in Erbil, Iraq September 22, 2017.
AZAD LASHKARI/REUTERS

Iraq's parliament voted Tuesday evening to ban the flying of Israeli flags in public after the flag had become a frequent symbol at Kurdish independence rallies. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the region's only leader to vocally support Kurdish independence, his photo had also appeared at Kurdish rallies.

Ammar al-Hakim, the Shi'ite leader of the Citizen Bloc, in Iraq's parliament introduced the measure in Iraq's parliament according to the Iraqi news agency AlSumaria.

An Iraqi Kurd raises frame of Putin, Netanyahu, and Iraqi Kurdistan President Massud Barzani during a demonstration outside the UN Office in Erbil, on October 21, 2017
AFP PHOTO / SAFIN HAMED

Iraq plans to hold parliamentary elections on May 15 to choose a prime minister, a statement from the prime minister's office said late on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi hasn't yet said if he plans to seek a new term. Most executive power is held by the prime minister, who is also commander of the armed forces.

The May 15 date, agreed at a government meeting on Tuesday, has yet to be approved by parliament.

Abadi took over the premiership in 2014 from Nuri al-Maliki, a close ally of Iran held responsible for the army's collapse as Islamic State militants swept through a third of Iraq.

Abadi is credited for quickly rebuilding the army and defeating Islamic State in its main Iraqi stronghold, Mosul, last July, with strong assistance from a U.S.-led coalition.