Saudi Arabia on Monday slammed as “aggressive and irresponsible” accusations by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that the kingdom was supporting global terrorism.
“The kingdom condemns the aggressive and irresponsible statements made by the Iraqi prime minister,” an unidentified official told the SPA state news agency.
In an interview aired on Saturday, Maliki charged that Saudi Arabia and neighbouring Qatar were supporting militant groups in Iraq and across the Middle East as well as terrorism worldwide.
“Nuri al-Maliki knows very well, more than anyone else, the clear and categoric position of the kingdom against terrorism… and is aware of the kingdom’s efforts to combat this phenomenon locally and globally,” the official said.
“Instead of making haphazard accusations, the Iraqi prime minister should take measures to end the chaos and violence that swamp Iraq.”
The Saudi official accused Maliki’s Shiite-led government of sectarian policies towards sections of the Iraqi population, an apparent reference to the disgruntled Sunni Arab minority.
The official said the violence convulsing Iraq was taking place “clearly with the blessing and support of the sectarian and exclusionary policies of his government.”
“It is clear that those statements are aimed at turning the facts on their head, and blaming others for the domestic failures of the Iraqi prime minister.”
In an apparent allusion to Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia’s Shiite rival Iran, the official said that Maliki’s failings had “subordinated Iraq to regional parties who have contributed to sectarian violence unprecedented in Iraq’s history.”
Maliki’s alleged failings have also “endangered Iraq’s territorial and national unity,” he said.
Iraq has been hit by a year-long surge in violence that has reached levels not seen since 2008, driven principally by discontent among its Sunni Arab minority and by the civil war in neighbouring Syria.
The United Nations and Western governments have urged the Shiite-led authorities to reach out to disaffected Sunnis.
But with elections due next month, political leaders have not wanted to be seen to compromise, and have instead adopted a hard line against Sunni militants.
In January, Maliki blamed “diabolical” and “treacherous” Arab governments for the upsurge in violence, but before Saturday he had refrained from pointing directly at particular states.