PM Maliki says Saudi Arabia and Qatar 'destabilise' Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of seeking to destabilise his country by supporting insurgent groups and providing them with financial support.

In an interview with French television channel France24, Mr Maliki said the two countries had effectively declared war on Iraq.

"They are attacking Iraq through Syria, and in a direct way," he said.

Mr Maliki also accused Saudi Arabia of supporting global "terrorism".

Iraq has been going through a period of renewed violence in recent months, driven principally by widespread discontent among the country's Sunni minority and by the civil war in neighbouring Syria.

Mr Maliki, who belongs to the Shia majority, said accusations that he was marginalising the Sunnis came from sectarian groups with links to Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

In the past, he has blamed unnamed regional countries for destabilising Iraq.

Last year, Iraq saw the highest death toll since 2007, according to the United Nations.

According to UN figures, the violence in 2013 killed 8,868 people.

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