TODAY’S MESOP SUMMARY IRAQ : U.S. Gulf allies align against Iraqi government, blast sectarian policies
Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal on Thursday blasted the Shiite-dominated government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for having systematically instituted policies that “incited sectarianism,” echoing a criticism of Maliki under which he has been broadly blamed for alienating Iraqi Sunnis and creating an environment favorable to the current insurgency being led by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Faisal had a day before been blunt in characterizing the Iraq crisis as a burgeoning civil war with regional implications, in which actors with “bad intentions” were pursing “plots threatening [Iraq’s] security, stability, national unity and sense of Arab identity.” The UAE – part of a bloc of traditional U.S. allies that has in recent years found itself aligned opposite an Iranian-led Shiite axis and the camp of Islamist radicals that includes the Muslim Brotherhood – in the meantime recalled its ambassador from Baghdad for consultations.
The posture being taken by Washington’s Gulf partners is likely to have domestic implications in the United States, as the Obama administration considers how to respond to ISIS’s military progress. Secretary of State John Kerry has twice this week floated the possibility of coordination or cooperation or information-sharing with Iran regarding ISIS, remarks that were quickly met with criticism and – at least as of Monday – walk-backs by the State Department. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters on Thursday that he opposed U.S. coordination with Iran in part because it would be read by Washington’s Middle East allies as siding with Tehran, remarking that “I can just imagine what our friends in the region, our allies, will be thinking by reaching out to Iran at a time when they continue to pay for terrorists and foster terrorism, not only in Syria and in Lebanon but in Israel as well.”