Saudi rejects charges of inciting Iraq insurgency  


The accusations, rejected by Saudi Arabia, come ahead of an election next year. Ties between Iraq and its Sunni neighbours have been strained since the 2003 US invasion toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussain and handed power to the Shia majority. Further tension could unsettle regional security.

“There are regional powers that pay billions of dollars … to push for the failure of Iraq’s democracy,” said lawmaker Haidar al-Ibadi of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Dawa party. “The reports that we have … indicate a multi-billion dollar plan by Saudi Arabia and other states,” he added when asked about a spike in bombings that could hurt confidence in the Shia-led government ahead of the January election. Many Sunni Arabs fear Shia dominance in Iraq will boost the regional influence of non-Arab Shia Iran. Another senior lawmaker, Sami al-Askari, said intelligence reports indicated Saudi Arabia was trying to undermine security by supporting and inciting insurgents. He also accused Riyadh of seeking to wield political influence by financing Shia, Sunni and Kurdish politicians and tribal leaders. “Saudi Arabia is not happy that Shias lead this country,” said Askari, a member of parliament’s foreign relations panel. He said Egypt and Jordan were also meddling in Iraq. Kurdish lawmaker Adel Berwari of parliament’s security and defence committee said he had received the same information. The Saudi foreign ministry dismissed the accusations, and US military commanders and Iraqi diplomats say there is no evidence the Sunni Islamist insurgency in Iraq has the backing of the Saudi government. Support from Saudi individuals, religious leaders and groups is another matter, they say. “These allegations are baseless and not serious. Since day one of the Iraqi crisis, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has distanced itself from interfering in Iraqi internal affairs,” Saudi foreign ministry spokesman Osama Nugali said. Ibadi and Askari did not provide proof of meddling by Saudi Arabia, which is itself battling Al Qaeda militancy. The sectarian mayhem that killed tens of thousands of Iraq’s Shias and Sunnis has abated, but Iraqi officials are worried about attempts to reignite it. A recent spate of bombings by suspected Al Qaeda militants has put many Iraqis on edge. Maliki on Saturday said those “spending money” to weaken Iraq would fail and has repeatedly accused unidentified neighbouring countries of funding the insurgents in Iraq. Despite an initial frosty reception after the 2003 invasion, most Arab states have now opened embassies in Baghdad or sent high-level delegations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *