RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, (AP) -Saudi Arabia’s interior minister on Sunday called Iraq a major base for terrorism, a sign of growing alarm over the neighboring country where U.S. forces are struggling to prevent Sunni-Shiite violence from escalating into full-scale civil war.
Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif said the situation in Iraq is deteriorating daily and the country has become a threat to the whole region.
“There is no doubt that Iraq now forms a main base for terrorism,” he told the pan-Arab Al-Arabiya television station in the capital Riyadh.
“The situation in Iraq is changing day after day, and this situation has numerous threats,” he said before his departure to the United Arab Emirates to attend a meeting on security issues in the Gulf states.
The minister also said Saudi youth were being lured to fight in Iraq. U.S. and Iraqi officials have long complained about Saudi extremists crossing into Iraq to join the battle against American and coalition forces. U.S. officials announced last April that Saudis were one of the top five nationalities among foreign fighters captured by coalition forces in Iraq.
The oil-rich kingdom has been moving forward with plans to build a fence along its frontier with Iraq to prevent militants from crossing the border.