News / Middle East

    Kerry Urges Gulf Nations to Use Influence on Sunni Tribes in Iraq

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and King Abdullah wait for a meeting at the King's private residence in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 27, 2014
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and King Abdullah wait for a meeting at the King's private residence in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 27, 2014
    Phillip Walter Wellman

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has held talks with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on the crises in Iraq and Syria and has also met Syrian rebel leader Ahmad Jarba in the Red Sea town of Jeddah.  

    During his brief meeting with Jarba, Kerry said the moderate Syrian opposition he leads would be important in deterring the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

    The Sunni jihadist group controls a large section of Syria and in recent weeks seized swathes of Iraqi territory.

    Kerry’s visit to Saudi Arabia comes a day after President Barack Obama asked the U.S. Congress to approve $500 million to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels.

    The news will be welcomed by the Saudis, the biggest financial backers of the rebels, who have repeatedly criticized the United States for not providing enough support to those fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

    Ahmed al-Attar, assistant director of defense and security at the Abu Dhabi-based Delma Institute, says in Riyadh's eyes, American “inaction” in Syria is partly to blame for ISIL’s spill over into Iraq.

    "By not supporting the moderates, [the USA has] increased the overall support for ISIL and allowed ISIL to thrive in a climate of lawlessness that has gripped Syria. Meanwhile, the moderate rebels have been side-lined and they are one of the weaker actors now."

    In response to the recent advances by ISIL, which rejects the Middle East’s Sunni monarchs despite being of the same branch of Islam, King Abdullah this week announced he had ordered all necessary measures to protect his nation against “terrorist threats.”

    This is believed to include further protection against local jihadist sympathizers.  

    Gregory Gause, a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Doha Center, says a considerable amount of funding for the Sunni militant group is believed to come from Gulf donors who consider Iraq’s government a pawn of Shi’ite powerhouse Iran.

    "There’s plenty of suspicion that there’s support for ISIL in Saudi Arabia, not so much from the government, but private donors and volunteers caught up in the sectarian war in the region."

    Even among Saudi leaders, Gause believes fears of Sunni extremists gaining ground are weaker than concerns over Iran extending its influence.  

    "I think there might be a temptation in Riyadh to see ISIL as the lesser of two evils at least right at this point for tactical reasons. And I think that might put them crosswise with the United States, who also worries about Iranian influence in Iraq, but I think prioritizes the ISIL threat."

    The United States would like Saudi Arabia and its other Gulf allies to do more to stop the flow of private funds to ISIL.

    During talks in Paris on Thursday, Kerry also called on Gulf nations to use their influence on Sunni tribes in Iraq to help the crippled nation pull back from the brink of civil war.  He warned that the public hostility shown by Gulf leaders towards Iraq’s Shi’ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki could backfire.

    Territory within Syria and Iraq, ISIL’s Planned Islamic StateTerritory within Syria and Iraq, ISIL’s Planned Islamic State

     

    The White House is sending 300 military advisers to help Baghdad stop the advance of ISIL. More of those troops arrived Thursday. The U.S. is also flying 30 to 35 daily surveillance flights over Iraq.

    The militants' push toward Baghdad seems to have slowed in recent days. But concerns remain about ISIL setting up a brutal Islamist state in areas of Iraq and Syria that it controls.

    Human Rights Watch says analysis of photographs and satellite imagery "strongly indicates" that ISIL extremists conducted mass executions in Tikrit  after seizing control of the city earlier this month. The human rights groups says ISIL fighters killed between 160 and 190 men in at least two locations between June 11 and 14.

    FILE - Shii'te pilgrims make their way to the shrine of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim as passing by a poster of Shi'ite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, right, in Baghdad, Iraq.FILE - Shii'te pilgrims make their way to the shrine of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim as passing by a poster of Shi'ite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, right, in Baghdad, Iraq.
    x
    FILE - Shii'te pilgrims make their way to the shrine of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim as passing by a poster of Shi'ite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, right, in Baghdad, Iraq.
    FILE - Shii'te pilgrims make their way to the shrine of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim as passing by a poster of Shi'ite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, right, in Baghdad, Iraq.

    Pressure on Maliki

    In Iraq, pressure continued to mount on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

    The country's top Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called on political blocs to agree on a new prime minister, president, and parliament speaker by Tuesday.

    Iraq's recently elected parliament meets Tuesday to begin the process of forming what many hope will be a more inclusive government that does not marginalize Iraq's Sunni minority.

    The prime minister has rejected forming an emergency government, saying that would go against the country's constitution and the results of the April 30 parliamentary election.

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
        Next 
    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    June 28, 2014 9:16 PM
    O..bama is a born and raised Sunni Muslim, he is and always will be! It doesn't make a hoot that he converted to Christianity. He has done more against Christians that the evil-mudering-baby raping-slaughtering Sunni Muslims, his brothers! Why would the Sunni born and raised O...bama do anything less other than support his fellow evil-mudering-babyraping-slaughtering Sunni Muslims. Just seeing if VOA will ever post my comments about the radical Sunni jihadist we all call O...bama. If not, then VOA is in bed with O...bama since we can criticize his holiness, but we can talk all the smack we want about anybody else. OK, VOA, don't post this one either. BTW, has anyone heard from ANY Sunni Muslim protesting these barbaric actions by these muderous Sunnis? Yeah, me neither.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    June 28, 2014 9:01 AM
    MY OWN PERSONAL OPINION? -- The US is arming and training the Sunni Muslim extremists in Jordan and Turkey, to wage war on the Shia Muslim led countries in Syria, and now in Iraq, and the US wants more funds and weapons supplied from the Sunni Muslim Monarchies to help the Sunni Muslims (ISIL) to defeat the Shia Muslim countries of Syria and Iraq....

    PS; Who's side is America on? -- When the US arms and trains the Sunni Muslims in Jordan and Turkey, to wage war on the Shia led governments of Syria and now Iraq?.... and the US still won't supply the warplanes and helicopter gunships that the Iraq government bought from the US in 2012, to defend Iraq? ---- YOU be the Judge?

    by: Ali baba from: new york
    June 28, 2014 6:27 AM
    Mr. Kerry ,do you want make a deal with the devil . what is your logic to deal with Saudi? Saudi want spreading Wahhabi. they created Taliban of Afghanistan by establishing madrassa . Taliban created a bloody war in Afghanistan which resulted of killing thousands of American. Saudi went Africa and send their psychopath whom are able to create Boko harm. in other words, Saudi are the sources of all Islamic madness that causes million to killed as a sheep . christen are suffering from the worst persecution in history of Christianity .Saudi is supplying money and weapons to all thugs like SISI .Saudi is playing double standard . do you think Kerry that your lovely personality and your intellectual will change the world with dealing with this mentally ill religious fanatic. In fact you are dreaming .

    by: Igor from: Russia
    June 28, 2014 5:50 AM
    Kerry is urging those who are sponsoring and habouring Suni terrorist groups to use Influence on the Sunni terrorists in Iraq...Wonderful idea! By Kerry action the truth is coming to light: USA friends are terrorist sponsors and supporters. If not how those terrorists will follows their sponsors advice? Ha Ha Ha

    by: Sunny Enwerem from: Lagos Nigeria
    June 27, 2014 6:23 PM
    Now do we say Assad is correct in saying the same terrorist his fighting is sponsored by Saudi Sunnis'?who are the moderate Sunni rebels?aren't they the same that when u deprive them of heavy weapons to achieve a truthful agenda to stop the Assad family rain turn to the extremist due to the hardened choice they had to make in continuing their course, Assad and Maliki needs to know that to Rule is never their bath right.

    by: Dave1967 from: Tennessee
    June 27, 2014 5:33 PM
    Iraq as we know it now is dead. Iraq will be Shiite Iraq,Sunni Iraq and Greater Kurdistan. I don't blame the Sunnis for not helping Baghdad. Why would you fight for a Government that openly discriminates against you?
    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    June 27, 2014 11:29 PM
    Right on Dave! Why would anyone defend a nation the openly discriminates? I'm with you 100%...wait......no I'm not! Maybe you should ask the native-Americans, African-Americans, why they defended a nation that was so brutal to them as well. Are you sure about this statement? Why you say? Why would anyone defend a nation that discriminates them. The answer is simple my friend, it's called citizenship. Ever hear of it? Man, me an my Boy Scout ways! Well, a citizen swears that he/she will defend their nation above their own religious beliefs and personal/political convictions. In case you weren't aware, Mr Tennessee (birth of the KKK), white people didn't win WWII, it was the USA! We had many non-white cultures in our military that even by today's military analysts agree that if it weren't for the minorities in the US military during WWII, that we would be speaking German and Japanese! What a moronic statement, "don't blame them". This was their moment, the Iraqi Sunnis. Had they adamantly stood up against the ISIL, like they swore to their nation they would, then the Iraqis would then see them as citizens, instead of just Sunnis. You know, how we see black people now; because they struggled to become part of a nation, instead of beside a nation. Black people rose up and showed their strength and citizenship. These Sunnis (that you don't blame), are cowards. What a terrible thing to say, hope you don't have children to teach them that way of thinking. If you do have children, (congradulations, by the way) please remind them that their country is not their government. Their country is it's people, period! These Sunnis (you defend) swore an oath in order to be in the military. AN OATH! They, the Iraqi Sunnis, will not be fighting for a government, they will be fighting for a nation that they swore an oath to defend. Good grief, does an OATH mean anything to you? This problem in Iraq already existed long before this ISIL crisis. Instead of defending the cowardly Sunni, why not make this much more intelligent comment: "why would anyone swear an oath to defend a nation that openly discriminated you? Why join the military in the first place?" Cowards! I would have a little more respect for the ISIL if they treated these Iraqi Sunni cowards the same. I would think the ISIL would be ashamed to have these Iraqi Sunni cowards join with them, since the ISIL believes their cause is just and pure by the command of Allah.

    by: Bodie
    June 27, 2014 4:30 PM
    Why don't Arab countries supply their own well equipped armed forces to quell and destabilize the Iraqi and Syrian "rebels"; Isis/Isil / Qaida ?
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    June 28, 2014 11:18 AM
    YOU ask why doesn't the other Arab countries help quell the rebels, extremists, terrorists, the (ISIS), the (ISIL), with their well equipped US supplied armed forces?

    THE ANSWER IS -- All the other Arab countries (except Iran) are Sunni Muslim countries, and the all the Sunni Muslim extremists and terrorists in the world, are better than the Shia Muslim led governments in Syria and Iraq, to the Sunni Muslim rulers.... (WHO'S SIDE IS AMERICA ON?) .... LOOK at who they're supplying arms and training to in Jordan and Turkey.... REALLY

    by: ali baba from: new york
    June 27, 2014 2:34 PM
    There is moderate. once the money got to his pocket , he will seek a deal with ISIS.

    by: Not Again from: Canada
    June 27, 2014 11:38 AM
    Good to see that a new gvmt will be formed promptly; let us hope it is a gvmt of national unity, that includes all major groups in Iraq. With such a gvmt, those Sunnis that are undecided need to go over and join the new gvmt to support it in its fight against ISIL/ISIS.
    The terrible crimes the ISIL has committed, by its own admission (videos), should send a clear signal to all Iraqis that they need to work together, if they want to survive the onslaught of the terrorists..

    by: meanbill from: USA
    June 27, 2014 10:23 AM
    What part of the Ayatollah Al al-Sistani speech did he demand Maliki must be replaced? WHAT DID HE SAY? -- "Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called on political blocs to agree on a new Prime Minister, President, and Parliament Speaker by the Tuesday meeting" FACTUAL FACTS? -- Iraq must elect new government leaders for the new term, including the Prime Minister, President, and Parliament Speaker to replace the expiring terms of the old government, (and Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani just wants it done as soon as possible), to fight the (ISIL), and the "new" Prime Minister, might just be Maliki being re-elected.... REALLY
    Comments page of 2
        Next 

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora