Cairo: Amid the alarming territorial gains made by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Kuwait is pushing fellow Gulf states to take a strong stand after the public release of a map by Isil showed the militant group pushing through Kuwait’s oil fields to build an Islamic caliphate across the Middle East.
“Kuwait is on the front line in here. They are the ones who have the most worry,” said Abdul Khaleq Abdullah, a Gulf expert and political scientist.
Despite the growing regional alarm since Isil seized one of Iraq’s largest cities, Mosul, last week, Arab states largely have remained silent publicly or limited themselves to calls for a unity government in Iraq that defuses the anger of Iraq’s Sunni Muslims, who make up about a third of Iraq’s population.
Saudi Arabia, the region’s most powerful state, separated from Iraq by a high-tech border fence, hasn’t commented on Isil’s advance.
Newspapers and influential figures in Saudi Arabia and Qatar increasingly are emphasising the roles of Sunni tribes and other grassroots Sunni groups, rather than Isil, in the fight to overthrow Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki’s Shiite-dominated Iraqi government. Saudi Arabia supplies arms and money to groups it says include moderate rebels in neighbouring Syria, but has long denounced Isil-which has overlapping operations in Syria and Iraq-as a terrorist group.
In May, Saudi Arabia accused Saudi Isil recruits of trying to spur domestic attacks. Isil fighters in Syria say their enemies include both Saudi-backed Syrian rebel factions and the Saudi regime.
With the insurgent advance in Iraq, capturing armouries, a central bank in Mosul and other loot from towns abandoned by Iraqi forces, “some heavy artillery and possibly as much as $400 million fell into their hands,” said Fahd Nazer, a former analyst for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, said of Isil.
“That’s a bad scenario for everybody.” Some in the region warned on Sunday that US military intervention on behalf of Iraq’s Shiite-led government would be a mistake.
If there is “an intervention to support Al Maliki by the West, then the Arabs all over, and the Muslims all over, they will take it as a war against them and against Islam,” said Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, former Qatar ambassador to the US and the United Nations. He stressed he was speaking in a personal capacity. “Don’t go,” he said, in a message intended for those in the US calling for at least a partial US military return to Iraq. “If you want to help, help by putting pressure, bringing people together” in a representative Iraqi government.” Any “US involvement has and will continue to be recruitment gold for Al Qaida,” Nazer said.