The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS)'s ability to control large areas in northern Iraq "was expected because of Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki's sectarian policies and his affiliations to regional powers that do not want good for Iraq or its people", a senior Saudi official said.
Saudi Arabia's former intelligence chief Prince Turki Al-Faisal held Al-Maliki's government responsible for loosing large swathes of territory in northern Iraq to insurgents and said that "Baghdad has failed to stop ISIS' influence over militants and Baathists from the Saddam Hussein era."
Al-Faisal added: "The advancing forces of the organisation of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant should not have been a surprise", pointing out in his speech before the European Council on Foreign Relations last week in Rome that "the situation in Anbar province in Iraq has been boiling for some time and it seemed that the Iraqi government was not only uninterested to calm the situation there, but even eager to escalate things in some cases."
A senior Saudi Foreign Ministry official said, during a closed meeting with some Western ambassadors recently, that his country stands against all terrorist organisations. He pointed out that "ISIS is listed as a terrorist organisation in Saudi Arabia just like Al-Qaeda, the Saudi Hezbollah, the Huthi movement and others".
According to information circulated among the diplomatic community in the Saudi capital Riyadh, Iran, which has supported Al-Maliki and was behind many of his decisions, "is now convinced of the need to find a substitute to replace him who could be acceptable to the Sunni community, which has suffered a lot as a result of Al-Maliki's racist policies which marginalised and persecuted them following instructions from Tehran."
They added a "recent meeting of senior Iranian security officials, headed by Iran's President Rouhani concluded on the need to get rid of Al-Maliki as a start to solving the problem."
Al-Faisal said ISIS did not appear to have enough power on its own to achieve the progress it had achieved especially as media reports confirmed the number of its fighters ranged between 1,500 and 3,000. He said "these figures not only includes tribal formations in the region, but also Baathists and other groups that were operating in that part of Iraq since the beginning of the US occupation of Iraq in 2003."
Al-Faisal pointed out that the situation in Iraq is changing rapidly which inhibits predicting what will happen in the coming days or weeks, but "the situation may lead to unexpected results if the United States participated in the fighting, three years after the end of the occupation of Iraq in 2011".
He added: "Among the potential scenarios that might occur is that we see the Iranian Revolutionary Guards fighting alongside US drones to kill Iraqis."
US newspapers published leaks that Al-Maliki agreed to allow the US to use military drones against ISIS fighters.