Baghdad (AFP) – Saudi Arabia and Qatar are supporting militant groups in Iraq and have effectively declared war on the country, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said as nationwide violence left 15 dead Saturday.
The rare direct attack on the Sunni Gulf powers, with Maliki also accusing Riyadh of supporting global terrorism, comes with Iraq embroiled in its worst prolonged period of bloodshed since 2008, with more than 1,800 people killed already this year, ahead of parliamentary elections due next month.
Maliki, a Shiite, has in the past blamed unnamed regional countries and neighbours for destabilising Iraq.
But in an interview with France 24 broadcast on Saturday, the Iraqi premier said allegations he was marginalising Sunnis were being pushed by “sectarians with ties to foreign agendas, with Saudi and Qatari incitement”.
Referring to the two countries, he said: “They are attacking Iraq, through Syria and in a direct way, and they announced war on Iraq, as they announced it on Syria, and unfortunately it is on a sectarian and political basis.”
“These two countries are primarily responsible for the sectarian and terrorist and security crisis of Iraq.”
Saudi Arabia, along with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, withdrew its ambassador to Qatar this month.
Baghdad has long complained that support for militant groups fighting in Syria’s civil war finds its way through to Iraq with weapons in particular ending up in the hands of jihadists.
Maliki said in the interview that Riyadh and Doha were providing political, financial and media support to militant groups and accused them of “buying weapons for the benefit of these terrorist organisations”.
In the interview, Maliki also accused Saudi Arabia of supporting global terrorism, both inside the Arab world and in other countries.
He slammed “the dangerous Saudi stance” of supporting “terrorism in the world — it supports it in Syria and Iraq and Lebanon and Egypt and Libya and even in countries outside” the Arab world.
Full article: Saudi Arabia and Qatar in ‘war on Iraq’: Maliki (Yahoo!)