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Saudi King Backs Iraq's Sunni Rebels

Ally undermining Bush strategy and fledgling government
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 27, 2007 6:23 AM CDT
Saudi King Backs Iraq's Sunni Rebels
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, centre, enters the Moncloa palace with Spain's prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, right, in Madrid, Tuesday, June 19, 2007. King Abdullah, a key player in Middle East politics, said he fears conflicts in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Iraq could explode...   (Associated Press)

(Newser) – Saudi Arabia is working at cross purposes with the Bush administration in Iraq by backing Sunni tribes engaged in sectarian violence there, the New York Times reports. King Abdullah has funded the Sunnis and is allowing insurgents to enter the country, US officials charge. Of up to 80 foreign fighters who enter Iraq monthly, they estimate, nearly half come from Saudi Arabia.

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Sunni Saudi Arabia has been reluctant to support the Shiite-dominated government in Iraq, charging that PM Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is a puppet of Iran. Abdullah has warned publicly that if US troops are withdrawn, his nation might back Sunni fighters in the civil war likely to ensue. The White House remains reluctant to censure the Saudis for fear of losing a vital ally. (Read more Saudi Arabia stories.)

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