Saudi minister sees Iraq disintegrating

RIYADHSaudi Arabia‘s foreign minister has issued a blistering assessment of the situation in Iraq, warning that the country is “gradually going toward disintegration.” Meeting with the international media on Sept. 22 – but directing urgent comments to the U.S. and British administrations – Prince Saud al-Faisal said, “There seems to be no dynamic now that is pulling the country together. All the dynamics there are pushing the people away from each other."

According to the UK Guardian, he doesn’t believe an election planned for December is likely to make a difference, and pointed out that his government had warned U.S. officials before the war of the consequences of invasion. "It is frustrating to see something that is clearly going to happen, and you are not listened to by a friend, and soon harm comes out of it. It hurts," he said.

Among Iraq‘s neighbors, including Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Syria and Turkey, he said the main worry is that a break-up of Iraq "will draw the countries of the region into conflict." Turkey is worried about an independent Kurdish state, while Saudi Arabia, which is primarily made up of Sunni Muslims, is concerned about growing Iranian and Shiite influence in southern Iraq.

A referendum on Iraq‘s new constitution is planned for Oct. 15, followed by a general election in December, an event U.S. and British officials hope will be a watershed. "Perhaps what they are saying is going to happen," Prince Saud said. "I wish it would happen, but I don’t think that a constitution by itself will resolve the issues."

Saudi Arabia has been reluctant to send diplomatic representatives to Iraq following the kidnapping and murder of Egyptian Ambassador Ihab al-Sharif, Ali Belaroussi, head of the Algerian mission, and his colleague Izzedine Belkadi. Prince Saud said a Saudi ambassador in Baghdad would become an immediate target for assassination. "I doubt that he’d last a day," he said.