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

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

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.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid