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Is it a Crime Visiting Saudi Arabia? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The attacks made by the Dawa party and the supporters of the ruling regime in Iraq on Dr. Ayad Allawi can only be understood by recalling an important issue which is that Allawi’s visit to Saudi Arabia came at a time that reminds the Iraqi electorate that Nuri al-Maliki’s government is isolated from the Arab world, and this is something that has led to the isolation of Iraq as a whole. Of course, this is something that is troubling to the Dawa party followers and the State of Law coalition, especially since the Iraqi elections are just around the corner.

The issue is not just the deterioration of Nuri al-Maliki’s relationship with the Saudis but also the Syrians, and many Gulf States, as well as Egypt and Jordan, even if it seems on the surface that the relationship between Nuri al-Maliki’s government and some of these countries are normal. It is well known that the relationship between al-Maliki’s government and the Arab world is not one built on trust and does not serve Iraqi interests. This is the reason why some people in Iraq are concerned, and this is what prompted Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to comment on Allawi’s visit to Saudi Arabia to the Al Hurra channel, saying “[as for] the movement of some [electoral] list officials to certain countries, and meeting with the heads of state of these countries, and conducting talks devoted to the [Iraqi] elections… what kind of patriotism is this and how can we deal with it?”

The criticism of Allawi’s visit to Riyadh might be believable if he had only visited Saudi Arabia, however Dr. Allawi publicly visited the President of Egypt, the President of Syria, the Emir of Kuwait, the Emir of Qatar, and the President and Prime Minister of Lebanon. Therefore the question that the Iraqi voter must ask himself here is; does Nuri al-Maliki, or his allies, possess the capabilities to undertake visits such as these?

I doubt it, and the Iraqi citizen must doubt this as well, especially as the Iraqi people have seen for themselves that the most frequent visits undertaken by members of al-Maliki’s government are visits to Iran. The Iraqi people must also not forget the Iraqi Prime Minister’s visit to Iran where he appeared without a tie during a meeting with the Supreme Ruler of Iran; is this the type of relationship that Iraq and the Iraqi people aspire to? Of course not.

This is the most important question and should be in the minds of the Iraqi electorate as they prepare for the forthcoming elections. As for the talk that Allawi visited Saudi Arabia in order to obtain support, or in order to engage the Saudi Arabians in Iraqi internal affairs, this is simply naïve. Somebody wanting to obtain support does not travel openly or just days prior to the elections.

It is not a crime to visit Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, and in fact this should be the normal status of Iraq, and it is unfortunate that some Dawa party members and others view Allawi’s visit to Saudi Arabia as a declaration of Saudi intervention in Iraqi affairs with the aim of undermining the Shiite position in Iraq, as some statements claimed. These statements are unfortunate and based upon detestable sectarianism; Iraq does not only belong to the Shiites or the Sunnis, and there are other sects in Iraq, and they possess their full rights and identity. The most important thing is for Iraq to be independent and unified and a part of the region with healthy relations [with other countries]. This is something that al-Maliki has not been able to achieve throughout all of his years of rule and for reasons that are obvious to the Iraqi people.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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