Saudi Arabia and Qatar have declared “war on Iraq” as they are providing “limitless” support for militant groups in the war-torn country, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said in an interview broadcast Saturday.
The two Gulf monarchies “are attacking Iraq through Syria and directly. They absolutely staged a war on Iraq as they staged a war on Syria,” al-Maliki said in his interview with France 24 television channel.
“I accuse them of inciting and encouraging the terrorist movement; I accuse them of supporting them politically and in the media, (and) supporting them with money and to buy weapons,” al- Maliki said, with English translation provided by the channel.
“And I accuse them of leading an open war against the Iraqi government; I accuse them of hosting leaders of al-Qaeda,” he said.
Al-Maliki pointed out that Iraq’s sectarian, terrorist and security crisis “is due to those countries first and foremost.”
The Iraqi prime minister also lashed out at Saudi Arabia’s stance of supporting terrorism around the world — in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya and even in countries outside the Arab world.
Al-Maliki warned Saudi Arabia and Qatar to “be careful because the support of terrorism will turn against you” and hoped the two countries will change their position.
But he ruled out the possibility of retaliation against Saudi Arabia and Qatar, saying “we could retaliate but we don’t wish to do that because this would fan the flame in the region.”
“We call on the world to put pressure on those countries, so that they stop supporting terrorism; we wish them to revise their policy,” al-Maliki said.
His remarks came as Iraq is witnessing its worst violence in recent years, which raised fears that the increasing violence could plunge the country in uncontrollable sectarian violence.
On Saturday, at least 31 people, including a candidate for the upcoming parliamentary elections, were killed and 49 others wounded in separate violent attacks across Iraq. The deadliest attacks occurred in Iraq’s western province of Anbar, leaving a total of 18 members of Iraq’s security forces dead and 25 others wounded.
According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, a total of 8, 868 Iraqis, including 7,818 civilians and civilian police personnel, were killed in 2013, the highest annual death toll for years.
Maliki’s accusations come a day after Saudi Arabia labeled The Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda as terrorist organizations, warning those who join them or support them could face five to 30 years in prison.
Saudi King Abdullah approved the findings of a committee entrusted with identifying extremist groups referred to in a royal decree earlier last month. The decree punishes those who fight in conflicts outside the kingdom or join extremist groups or support them.
Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador from Qatar, a Brotherhood supporter, along with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
The Saudi statement, carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, identified the other terrorist groups named as al-Qaida’s branches in Yemen and Iraq, the Syrian al-Nusra Front, Saudi Hezbollah and Yemen’s Shiite Hawthis. It said the law would apply to all the groups and organizations identified by the United Nations Security Council or international bodies as terrorists or violent groups.
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is the main al Qaeda branch in Iraq. It is not clear why Maliki is accusing Saudi Arabia of declaring war on Iraq , since the Saudi Monarch labeled ISIL as a terrorist organization