Iraq’s prime minister has lashed out at two Gulf countries for allegedly sponsoring terrorism, an accusation that raises more questions than it answers.
Nouri al-Maliki could begin by asking himself why popular discontent has been building in his country over the past years, particularly among Sunnis, and go straight from there to his tense relations with Shiites as well as with Kurds.
Maliki could also examine his government’s track record on managing Iraq’s hugely important oil industry, and ask whether any desperately needed funds have been diverted because of corruption.
Iraq has obviously chosen sides in Syria’s war, by supporting the regime of President Bashar Assad. Baghdad’s official backing has been accompanied by the flow of militiamen to Syria, only exacerbating the tension next door.
Meanwhile, recent jail breaks in Iraq – for which the Maliki government ultimately is responsible – have worked to boost the presence of Al-Qaeda-inspired militants, both in Iraq and in Syria. Finally, his government’s heavy reliance on Iran and the dubious way Maliki himself was named prime minister, can’t be ignored either.
But instead of looking inward and assessing how things went wrong, Maliki has lashed out at two Gulf states for being responsible for security problems, rising sectarianism and the scourge of terror – although one of them, Saudi Arabia, has been making headlines recently as it tackles the Al-Qaeda problem head-on.
Maliki might have surprised some people when he made his knee-jerk accusation of foreign-sponsored terror, but a bigger, and healthier surprise, would have been to see an Arab leader take responsibility for the mess that is Iraq today.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 10, 2014, on page 7.