The US-backed Iraqi government is enforcing the Arab boycott of Israel with increasing frequency, The Jerusalem Post has learned, with the number of boycott-related incidents involving US firms operating in Iraq nearly quadrupling last year, according to official US statistics.
In its recently released annual report for 2006, the US Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security noted that there had been 31 cases in which the Iraqi government had engaged in restrictive trade practices last year.
In 2005, according to the previous year's report, there were a total of just eight such cases involving Iraq.
US law bars American firms from complying with boycott-related requests and requires them to report any such incidents to the authorities. These might include demands made of companies to verify that their products do not contain components made in the Jewish state or signing forms attesting that they do not do business with Israel.
The most recent edition of the Business Guide for Iraq, a handbook that was published by the US Commerce Department last year, cautions American businessmen regarding Iraq's participation in the anti-Israel boycott.
"Currently, some US companies are reporting requests from Iraq for adherence to the Arab League boycott of Israel," says the guide, noting that, "compliance with such requests may be prohibited by the Export Administration Regulations."
In addition, the guide also states that, "Some US companies have been asked to certify their adherence to the Arab League Boycott of Israel when they apply to register their intellectual property rights in Iraq."
Contacted by the Post, an official at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv said, "the United States government is continuing to review this matter."
Iraqi officials were unavailable for comment.
It was unclear why Iraq began enforcing the Arab boycott of Israel more energetically last year. However, the Iraqi government sent an official representative to take part in the annual meeting of international liaison officers of the Arab League boycott Office in Damascus last May.
The aim of the meeting was to discuss ways of intensifying the trade embargo against the Jewish state.
At the time, a US State Department spokesman told the Post that Washington was "disappointed" over Iraq's decision to participate in the boycott of Israel, and said American officials had "raised this issue with Iraqi officials in the past and expect to raise it with them again."