News / Middle East

    Gulf Leaders Blame Iraq's Maliki for ISIL Crisis

    Qatar's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah (L) attends  Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting in Riyadh June 2, 2014.
    Qatar's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah (L) attends Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting in Riyadh June 2, 2014.
    Cecily Hilleary
    As the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continued along a bloody path toward Baghdad, President Barack Obama announced Thursday that the U.S. has stepped up “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets” in Iraq to get a clearer picture of what’s going on there.

    With better information about what ISIL is doing and where, the U.S. can better support the Iraqi military in countering the threat of Sunni Islamist forces. That may be good news for the Iranian-backed Maliki government in Iraq, but is not expected to sit well with Sunnis outside of Iraq – in particular, Sunni monarchies of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf countries.

    Assigning blame
     
    Salman ShaikhSalman Shaikh
    x
    Salman Shaikh
    Salman Shaikh

    “This is very much a situation of competing narratives,” said Salman Sheikh, director of the Brookings Doha Center and fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

    “The Maliki government, the Assad government, as well as Iran, are seeing this very much as a fight between elected governments and Sunni extremists, al-Qaida extremists," he said.

    “On the other side, you’ve got a narrative which is very much about the grievances that are being done to the Sunnis' heartland, particularly in Iraq by Maliki, and of course by a minority in Syria to the majority Sunni population,” Sheikh said.

    Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki has blamed Saudi Arabia for supporting the Sunni extremists with weapons and cash. But Saudi and the other Gulf countries throw the blame right back at the Iraqi leader, a Shi'ite, saying his own “sectarian and exclusionary policies” led to the current crisis.

    They also criticize the United States for its ongoing support of Maliki, warning that if the U.S. continues to back him, it could ignite a regional sectarian war. 

    The situation is therefore enormously complex, Sheikh said, and one that places the United States in a political quandary. 

    Crisis was predictable

     
    Former Qatar Ambassador to the U.N., Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa in New York (1996 file photo)Former Qatar Ambassador to the U.N., Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa in New York (1996 file photo)
    x
    Former Qatar Ambassador to the U.N., Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa in New York (1996 file photo)
    Former Qatar Ambassador to the U.N., Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa in New York (1996 file photo)

    “Iraq is a mosaic of cultures, histories, ethnicities, religions and sects,” said Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, former Qatari Ambassador to the U.N. and to the U.S.

    “And it used to be very inclusive, very open, respectful of all its political elements – Kurdish, Arab Sunni, Arab Shia, Arab Christian and others." 

    But not anymore, he told VOA, stressing that his remarks are his own and not representative of any government.

    “Everybody was expecting something big to happen in Iraq when Maliki came back as Iraqi prime minister four years ago,” Al-Khalifa said. “Instead of really opening up Iraq and making it a model for the religions, Maliki became beholden to the Iranians’ strategic goals in the region, i.e., to dominate the whole Middle East and the Gulf, and he created a sectarian state – as a matter of fact, an Iranian state within Iraq – because even Shi'ite Arabs suffered under him a lot.” 
     
    Al-Khalifa also said Maliki squandered hundreds of billions of dollars that should have been spent on improving Iraq’s faulty infrastructure. Meanwhile, sectarian violence was building, especially in the northeast tribal areas of the country.  When Iraqi security forces cracked down on Sunni protesters in Anbar province in April, tensions spiraled out of control. 

    While it may have seemed as if ISIL came out of nowhere, observers in the region saw it coming months ago, Al-Khalifa said.

    The Qatari diplomat also warned that U.S. intervention in Iraq on behalf of Maliki’s
    David OttawayDavid Ottaway
    x
    David Ottaway
    David Ottaway
    government could be seen by those tired of Western intervention as “a new crusade” aimed at destroying Arabs and Islam. And Maliki, with help from Iran, could read it as green light to stay put and continue his sectarian politics.

    Sectarian Showdown?

    President Obama also said Thursday the U.S. will head up a diplomatic effort with Iraqi and regional leaders to support stability in Iraq.

    Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to the Middle East and Europe this weekend for consultations with U.S. allies.

    David Ottaway, senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and a former Washington Post Middle East correspondent said he is doubtful that Maliki himself can achieve political unity.  Tensions between the Iran-backed government and Iraq’s Sunnis have been simmering for far too long.

    “The Sunnis have smarted ever since they lost power in Baghdad in 2003, and over time it’s just gotten worse and worse,” Ottaway said. “I don’t see how Maliki will get any Kurds or Sunnis at this point to join in a coalition government. 

    "I think it’s rather headed in the opposite direction –  towards a Sunni-Shia shootout.”

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Sasan.Heidari
    June 22, 2014 12:19 AM
    I love America and its power , really USA is super power and deserve it.

    But as an Iranian American Citizen I am not Happy when the president of USA call Gulf countries instead Real name PERSIAN GULF ,

    I think he is able to read and write and passes the geographic and history Courses in school and for sure he graduated from college and suppose to google it and find the right name.

    if he is not able to do that it is your reporter to correct the mistake of president dictation and let him know what it his problem

    by: Ali from: Chicago, IL
    June 21, 2014 2:56 PM
    Everyone knows where did the 911 terrorrists came from and who funded the Talibans and Jihadi Madarsas in Pakistan. Funny, the answer is only--Saudi Arabia. This fool from Qatar or any other terrorist lover Arab ruling family will only critcise Maliki but will not utter one single word against ISIS and we all know why. It's their own creature and they're taking care of it very well. Their aim is make sure Shias disappear from Middle East..this is what they've been doing for the last 1400 years. They're the followers of those terrorists who highjacked the Islam after the death of Prophet and runied the Religion of Peace and turned it into Arrogant Arab Terrorist Religion. This is what happens when you follow the Khalifas like Abu Bakar, Umar, and Mawiya...The first three Terrorists of Islam.

    by: James ONeal
    June 20, 2014 5:49 PM
    Excellent comments so far. Gulf leaders don't like Maliki? Of course not, duh, they are Sunni. Like this is news to anyone.

    At least this article is not about Cheney and the Neocons blaming this mess on Obama, talk about a credibility issue or credulity issue for anyone buying that for even a Dollar.

    Einstein said to things were likely infinite: the universe and human stupidity, but he was not sure about the universe.

    by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
    June 20, 2014 1:38 PM
    These gulf states cannot fight with Israel, because they are coward. They can create Terrorist Group, give them money and training to create as much as possible problems in Muslim Countries. Pakistan, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Yemen are few examples. They fell pleasure to see poor and helpless peoples in everlasting pain and endless tears.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    June 20, 2014 10:54 AM
    MY OPINION? -- Maliki would have to have the "wisdom of Solomon" to solve this insurmountable religious conflict between Sunni and Shia in Iraq? -- (AND?) -- And Maliki has to have the "wisdom of Solomon" not to listen to the foolish advice he gets from the US and NATO, and the Sunni monarchies, and the news media, repeating their advice as being logical?

    YOU ASK? -- Why does Maliki need the "wisdom of Solomon?" -- (Solomon himself, with all his wisdom, couldn't win or end this Iraq religious war?) --- Maliki must somehow find the courage to win and end this Sunni (ISIL) terrorist led insurrection against the Shia led Iraq government -- (with an Iraq army that's about 50% Sunni troops), that refuse to fight against the Sunni (ISIL) terrorists, and other Sunni terrorists, and even joined the Sunni terrorists in fighting the Shia led Iraq government, and will even shoot the Shia troops in the back when fighting. --- MALIKI has two choices to win and end this Sunni led insurrection, and both are drastic. -- Either disarm the Sunni troops, or segregate them from the Shia troops, to "win" this Sunni insurrection, (and then), find away to bring both sides together afterwards? --- (It is doubtful that Solomon with all his wisdom, couldn't accomplish this task?)

    ADVICE GIVEN by the US and NATO who started the Iraq war, and left without defeating the Iraq insurgents, because they couldn't do it, -- (NOW?) -- give advice to Maliki on how he can win and end this Iraq Sunni terrorist insurrection, by some simple negotiations, and more inclusion of the Sunnis in the Iraq government? --- (ADVICE TO MALIKI?) --- If those giving you advice aren't Solomon himself, don't listen to them)..

    by: Sensi
    June 20, 2014 5:25 AM
    The US allies in the Gulf are all dictatorships funding Sunni terrorism worldwide and a sectarian proxy war in Syria and Iraq, yet our hardly objective Western "free press" continue to feign that those Sunni dictatorships aren't the problem that has to be dealt with, giving them a tribune to tell us that the problem would be with those democratically elected people fighting the terrorists they fund and support, sure...

    The US either have to break their alliances with those nauseous dictatorships funding Sunni terrorism worldwide (Al Qaeda, Talibans, ISIS, Chechens, your pick) or stop pretending to have a foreign policy and alliances supporting "stability" if not democracy and human rights, that long-standing Western hypocrisy...

    by: My Take from: US
    June 20, 2014 4:42 AM
    Such Utter Nonsense!

    Is this guy a joke? As if life was "inclusive" in Iraq under Saddam Hussein!

    Saddam was a brutal and murdering dictator of Shias and Kurds.

    Hence, his comments sound like pure Sunni propaganda.

    Iraq was hardly inclusive and neither are the Sunni Gulf Arabs run by 12th Century oriented dictators!

    Were the Saudis inclusive to the Shais when they sent tanks to run them over in Bahrain? All they were asking for was inclusive right and as a majority population. Where was this guy's voice then?



    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora