Gulf Arabs vow to squash funding to Iraq insurgents

Filed on July 5, 2006

ABU DHABI - Gulf Arab states have promised to crack down harder on sources of funding for a bloody Sunni Muslim insurgency in Iraq, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki said on Tuesday.

“We agreed with our brothers to confront terrorism and dry up its sources by closing fake companies that fund terrorism in Iraq,” Maliki told reporters in the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi on his tour to gain political and economic support for his new government.

“This region has an interest in ending terrorism in Iraq,” he said, warning that militant attacks could spread to neighbouring countries if they went unchecked.

The world’s top oil exporting region has been fighting money laundering, particularly since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, but experts say dirty money is still around, especially in the booming UAE emirate of Dubai.

Earlier this week, Maliki held talks with leaders of Iraq’s southern neighbour Saudi Arabia where many of the Sunni insurgents fighting his Shia government come from.

Maliki, whose government has recently launched a national reconciliation plan to end the insurgency, said that when he returned to Baghdad he would meet a number of armed groups in Iraq who had contacted him on peace efforts as long as they clearly identified who would be representing them in the talks.

Maliki’s aides have previously said seven Sunni insurgent groups had contacted him seeking dialogue.

The prime minister said he had garnered support from Gulf leaders for his national reconciliation initiative.

Maliki, who headed to Kuwait after his UAE visit, said he would soon visit other Arab countries.

During his trip to Saudi Arabia, he urged businessmen to invest in Iraq, which is rebuilding after years of sanctions and several wars.

Maliki said in Abu Dhabi that his government would reveal in the next few days a new investment plan that would create “huge investment opportunities” for Iraqi, Gulf and foreign investors, especially in the power and oil sectors. He did not elaborate.

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