Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Malikiaccused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of “inciting and encouraging the terrorist movements.”
“The Saudi response came two days after the exclusive interview with Maliki was aired on FRANCE 24. Responding to the accusations, an unidentified Saudi official told the state SPA news agency that, “The kingdom condemns the aggressive and irresponsible statements made by the Iraqi prime minister”.
In his interview, Maliki said Saudi Arabia and Qatar were seeking to destabilise Iraq by supporting terrorist groups and providing them with financial support.
Maliki, an Iraqi Shiite politician, said the two Sunni majority Gulf countries were also “supporting terrorism” in Syria and “around the world”.
The Iraqi PM’s comments come at a time of an increasingly acrimonious divide between Shiites and Sunnis, fueled by the three-year Syrian conflict, where forces loyal to Syria’s Shiite President Bashar al-Assad have been battling a largely Sunni opposition.
Iraq is also home to a fault-line between the country’s majority Shiites and the Sunni community, which has been politically marginalised since the 2003 US invasion.
More than a decade after the Iraq war, the country is witnessing a resurgence of deadly violence with 8,868 people killed in attacks in 2013, according to the UN.
In the past, Maliki has blamed regional countries for destabilising Iraq. But he did not specifically name the countries.