Is it time for the Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia, to drop their caution towards the Iraqi prime minister Nouri al Maliki and his cabinet, and embrace a neighbour currently emerging from years of tyranny followed by civil strife?
Gulf reservations are understandable. Mr al Maliki was a member of the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) parliamentary bloc, the predecessor of the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), a coalition of Shiite, mainly Islamist, parties. Fearing Iranian dominance over Iraq, Saudi Arabia distanced itself from him.
By the time of the parliamentary elections in December 2005, the UIA consisted mainly of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (ISCI), Mr al Maliki’s Dawa party, its splinter group Dawa Iraq Organisation, and the Fadhilah party. Other groups known for their close ties with Iran, such as Moqtada al Sadr’s candidates and Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraq National Congress (INC), ran independently. [continued…]