DOHA: Qatar's foreign minister has accused Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of triggering the unrest that has swept his country through his policies of "marginalization" of the Sunni Arab minority.
Militants spearheaded by powerful jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and joined by supporters of executed dictator Saddam Hussein, have in the past week overrun a large chunk of northern and north-central Iraq, although their advance has since been slowed by a government counter-offensive.
"This (unrest) is partly a result of negative factors ... mainly implementing factional policies, marginalisation and exclusion," Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiya said in comments carried late Sunday by QNA state news agency.
Attiya was referring to Iraq's Sunni Arab minority, which has mostly been disgruntled since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, which changed the regime after ousting dictator Saddam Hussein.
The Qatari minister also cited the "forceful dispersement of peaceful rallies," in reference to crackdowns in April 2013 and January this year on Sunni Arab protests that demanded Maliki's ouster.
"This has deepened the divide between the components of the brotherly Iraqi people," QNA cited Attiya as saying in an address to the G77 summit in Bolivia.
He urged the Iraqi government to take into consideration the "demands of a large part of the population who are only asking for equality and participation, away from sectarian discrimination."
Relations between Doha and Baghdad are strained. Maliki in March accused Qatar, along with Saudi Arabia, of supporting terrorism.