JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia warned Wednesday of the risks of a civil war in Iraq with unpredictable consequences for the region, after militants seized large areas from Shia-led government forces.
The unrest “carries warning signs of a civil war with unpredictable consequences for the region,” Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said at the opening of an Islamic bloc meeting in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.
Saud renewed Saudi accusations that “sectarian policies of exclusion” of Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority implemented by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government were responsible for the violence.
This paved the way for countries with “bad intentions” towards Iraq “to go ahead with plots threatening its security, stability, national unity and sense of Arab identity,” he said.
His remarks came as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, would do whatever it takes to protect Shia holy sites in Iraq against the militants.
The Iraqi government, which is close to Tehran, has accused Sunni Saudi Arabia of financing the militants.
“We hold (Saudi Arabia) responsible for what these groups are receiving in terms of financial and moral support,” it said, accusing Riyadh of “siding with terrorism”.
Iraq was represented at the meeting of the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation by Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Sunni Kurd.
He discussed “regional developments” with the Saudi deputy crown prince, Moqren bin Abdul Aziz, on the sideline of the meeting, the official SPA news agency reported.
Prince Saud said the three-year-old civil war in neighbouring Syria had helped create the climate for internal unrest in Iraq.
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