Al-Maliki ‘follows Iran’s agenda to divide Iraq’
5 January 2013
Saddam Hussein’s Vice President Izzat Ibrahim Al-Douri accused Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki yesterday of seeking to implement an Iranian-backed agenda to divide Iraq.
In a videotaped message obtained by Al Arabiya, the fugitive Al-Douri — who was confirmed as the head of Iraq’s Baath Party following the execution of Saddam on Dec. 30, 2006 — said he was speaking from the central Babil Governorate on the anniversary of the Founding of the Iraqi Army.
He expressed support for the thousands of people who have been demonstrating in various Iraqi provinces for two weeks against Al-Maliki.
Yesterday thousands of Sunnis demonstrated across Iraq in the latest of nearly two weeks of rallies criticizing the premier and demanding the release of prisoners they say are wrongfully held.
The protests, which come amid a political deadlock between Al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government and a secular Sunni-backed party that is in his Cabinet but publicly opposes him, have blocked off a key trade route and forced heavy security measures.
KSA: Sectarianism will not bring peace in Iraq
5 January 2013
RIYADH: Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal told reporters yesterday that peace and security will not return to Iraq as long it is ruled by sectarianism and divisive forces.
Continued street protests have strained Iraq’s fragile political balance and renewed fears of intensified sectarian strife.
“We are convinced that Iraq will not stabilize until it starts handling issues without sectarian extremism ... Until these issues are addressed, we don’t think there will ever be stability in Iraq, which pains us,” Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said.
Prince Saud was addressing a press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr. The two ministers talked about the historic relations between the two countries and focused mainly on the economic ties between them.
He also stressed the Gulf states’ concerns over Iran's nuclear program and its attempts to interfere in their affairs.
“On the political front, we have discussed the Syrian issue that is worsening as the number of casualties has reached 60,000 according to a recent UN report, in additions to millions of refugees,” Prince Saud said.
Speaking of Saudi-Egyptian relations, Prince Saud said that they are connected by strong bonds and mutual respect in all fields and at all levels and that they are together in serving Arab and Islamic issues in addition to world peace and security.
In this respect, he said the first ministerial meeting was held Saturday for the monitoring committee and political consultation between two countries.
In addition, a number of cooperation issues were raised, including the Saudi-Egypt Business Council that is headed by two ministers of trade of the respective countries. This included ways to ease investment methods with special reference to the economic support lent to Egypt.
The need for the unification of Syria was emphasized, in addition to its sovereignty as an independent country.
With regard to the Palestine issue, the meeting described Israel's last escalation as dangerous. Building further settlements and seizing more Palestinian land, in addition to Israel's policy of blackmail that prevents and blocks money transfer to the Palestinians in an attempt to impose sanctions in the aftermath of gaining observer status at the UN with the support of the world community.
Developments on Palestinian reconciliation were also discussed, in addition to the commendable efforts made by Egypt in its attempt to pursue unity and solidarity.
Regarding the Iranian nuclear program, the issue was discussed with special reference to the GCC’s recent joint communiqué about its concern over the Iranian program and its environmental effects on the Gulf states, in addition to its potential danger on security and peace in the region and the world amid its noncompliance for a diplomatic solution.
On his part, Egyptian Minister Kamel Amr said Egypt and Saudi Arabia consult and communicate with each other on every issue. “Our relations exceed ties and boundaries,” he explained, pointing out that trade relations between two countries had soared to $ 5 billion and headed for further expansion.
Amr said he also had a meeting with Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, to extend President Mohamed Mursi’s invitation to King Abdullah to attend the forthcoming Islamic Summit in Cairo in February.