Maliki: `diabolical` Arab countries behind Iraq strife
As Iraqi government forces and allied tribal militias launched an all-out offensive against al-Qaeda-linked militants on Sunday in the Sunni stronghold of Anbar, Iraq’s premier accused “diabolical” and “treacherous” Arab states of being behind strife in the country.
In his remarks, al-Maliki said suicide bombers were coming to Iraq from as far as Morocco, Libya and Yemen, but stopped short of directing his disparaging sentiments against any specific country.
“Iraq is the target for some countries that are backing terrorism, and backing evil,” Agence France-Presse quoted Maliki as saying during the speech.
“The world has united with us,” he continued. “The U.N. Security Council, the European Union, and most Arab countries, except some diabolical treacherous countries.”
Recently, Anbar has erupted into a deadly standoff with security forces and their tribal allies facing off against anti-government militants and tribes.
Fighting originally erupted in Anbar’s capital Ramadi on Dec. 30, when security forces cleared a year-old Sunni Arab protest camp.
It spread to another major city in Anbar, Fallujah, and militants moved in and seized the city and parts of Ramadi after security forces withdrew.
Hours after launching the offensive, al-Maliki vowed to continue fighting “terrorism,” but left the door open for any political solution.
“Our battle is firstly to beat and eliminate terrorism,” the Associated Press quoted him as saying in a speech in the southern city of Nasiriyah.
“Though we welcome any solution, any proposal and any political meeting that should realize the priority of destroying terrorism, al-Qaeda, its formations and its allies,” he added.
In Anbar, it was the first time anti-government fighters have exercised such open control since the height of the insurgency that followed the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.
The Iraqi leader warned countries that supported violence in Iraq would also suffer, arguing “this evil has started to expand, and it will reach those same countries, as it reached others previously.”
Iraqi officials have alleged that Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular have supported disaffected Sunni Arabs in western Iraq as they have staged anti-government protests in the past year.