Iraq FM slams Saudi envoy for ‘interference’ in Baghdad affairs
Iraq’s foreign minister has denounced Saudi ambassador’s remarks about Iran’s role in the Arab country, including its advisory assistance to fight Takfiri militants.
FM Ibrahim al-Ja’afari told Iran’s IRNA news agency Saturday that Saudi Ambassador Thamer al-Sabhan’s comments represent “flagrant meddling in Iraq’s domestic affairs,” and run counter to standard diplomatic duties.
In a Twitter post, Sabhan wrote that Iranian military advisers were in Fallujah to incite sectarian violence and change the demographic composition of the city.
The Saudi ambassador made the remarks after Iraqi troops retook Fallujah from Daesh militants on Friday and trained their sights on Mosul, the last Takfiri bastion in the country.
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry summoned Sabhan “to inform him of its official protest regarding his divisive statements.” The ministry said Baghdad would not allow anyone to stoke divisions in the country through making sectarian comments.
Baghdad also said it would not allow Riyadh to draw Iraq into the kingdom’s conflict with Tehran.
Iraqi officials have at times stated that Iranian military advisers are in the Arab country at the request of Baghdad.
Ja’afari further pointed to Baghdad’s policy of détente vis-à-vis world countries, adding his country does not seek to cut diplomatic ties with any state.
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a regular critic of the government, also condemned Sabhan’s comments as “meddlesome, alarming and unacceptable.”
Allawi said in an interview with al-Sumaria satellite television network late on Saturday that the battle in Fallujah was against Daesh terrorists, and not sectarian in nature.
He said he would have demanded a replacement for Sabhan if he had been in charge.
Several Iraqi officials have accused Saudi Arabia of supporting Takfiris and remnants of the former dictator Saddam Hussein.
This is not the first time that the Saudi envoy to Baghdad makes such remarks about Baghdad’s campaign against terrorists.
Back in January, Sabhan claimed that sectarianism and tribalism were the driving force behind the Iraqi government’s arming of volunteer forces, known as Hashd al-Shaabi. He had also alleged that the Iraqi volunteer forces were not popular among Iraqi people.
The comments drew angry reactions among senior officials, who called for the Saudi envoy to be expelled.
Baghdad summoned Sabhan at the time and denounced his remarks as “a break of diplomatic protocols and based on inaccurate information.”
Riyadh is widely believed to be a major supporter of Takfiri terrorists in the Middle East, who are inspired by Wahhabism, the radical ideology dominating Saudi Arabia.
It fuels the ideological engine of terror organizations like the Daesh terrorist group and al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front wreaking havoc in Syria and Iraq.