A spokesperson for the US State Department rejected on Tuesday statements made by Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki accusing Saudi Arabia of sponsoring terrorism. Jen Psaki described his claims as "inaccurate and humiliating".
"This is against what the Iraqi people need now, which is what we continue to prove to Prime Minister al-Maliki," Psaki told a press conference in Washington DC. She described the situation in Iraq as "complex", noting that "there are some tribes and local politicians of Sunni background who joined the Iraqi government and others who joined the organisation of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, [ISIS] through violence to destabilise the government."
She added that "those who joined ISIS support terrorists who follow an extreme doctrine and believe they should kill Shiite Muslims because of their religious belief." Although she stressed the need for political leaders in Iraq to take into account the legitimate grievances of the people as a way to rule, Psaki did not provide further details.
A state of unrest has prevailed in the north and west of Iraq after Sunni armed groups led by ISIS fighters took control of large parts of several provinces, including Nineveh and Salahuddin. The Iraqi army withdrew without resistance, leaving large quantities of weapons behind.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose term in office has actually ended, describes these groups as "extremist terrorists". Sunni figures, meanwhile, say that what is happening is "a Sunni tribal revolt" against sectarian policies pursued by his Shiite government.
On Monday, Saudi Arabia accused Al-Maliki and his government of "excluding" Sunnis and held it responsible for the current situation. Riyadh called for the rapid formation of a consensus government in its northern neighbour. Baghdad responded on Tuesday by accusing Saudi Arabia of supporting Sunni militant groups in Iraq.