Gulf nations struggle with Iraq militant blowback

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FILE – This April 28, 2014 file photo shows armed, masked antigovernment gunmen patrolling Fallujah, Iraq, after Al-Qaida-linked fighters and their allies seized the city months ago. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf petro-powerhouses encouraged a flow of cash to Sunni rebels in Syria for years. But now they face a worrying blowback as an al-Qaida breakaway group that benefited from some of the funding storms across a wide swath of Iraq. Gulf nations fear its extremism could be a threat to them as well. But the tangle of rivalries in the region is complex: Saudi Arabia and its allies firmly oppose any U.S. military action to stop the Islamic State’s advance in Iraq because they don’t want to boost its Shiite-led prime minister or his ally, Iran. (AP Photo, File)

FILE – This April 28, 2014 file photo shows armed, masked antigovernment gunmen patrolling Fallujah, Iraq, after Al-Qaida-linked fighters and their allies seized the city months ago. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf petro-powerhouses encouraged a flow of cash to Sunni rebels in Syria for years. But now they face a worrying blowback as an al-Qaida breakaway group that benefited from some of the funding storms across a wide swath of Iraq. Gulf nations fear its extremism could be a threat to them as well. But the tangle of rivalries in the region is complex: Saudi Arabia and its allies firmly oppose any U.S. military action to stop the Islamic State’s advance in Iraq because they don’t want to boost its Shiite-led prime minister or his ally, Iran. (AP Photo, File)

FILE – This undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 shows fighters from the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf petro-powerhouses encouraged a flow of cash to Sunni rebels in Syria for years. But now they face a worrying blowback as an al-Qaida breakaway group that benefited from some of the funding storms across a wide swath of Iraq. Gulf nations fear its extremism could be a threat to them as well. But the tangle of rivalries in the region is complex: Saudi Arabia and its allies firmly oppose any U.S. military action to stop the Islamic State’s advance in Iraq because they don’t want to boost its Shiite-led prime minister or his ally, Iran. (AP Photo/Militant Website, File)

FILE – In this Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012 file photo, Syrian rebel fighter Tawfiq Hassan, 23, a former butcher, poses for a picture, after returning from fighting against Syrian army forces in Aleppo, at a rebel headquarters in Marea on the outskirts of Aleppo city, Syria. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf petro-powerhouses encouraged a flow of cash to Sunni rebels in Syria for years. But now they face a worrying blowback as an al-Qaida breakaway group that benefited from some of the funding storms across a wide swath of Iraq. Gulf nations fear its extremism could be a threat to them as well. But the tangle of rivalries in the region is complex: Saudi Arabia and its allies firmly oppose any U.S. military action to stop the Islamic State’s advance in Iraq because they don’t want to boost its Shiite-led prime minister or his ally, Iran. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)

FILE – In this Friday, June 13, 2014 file photo, Iraqi Shiite tribal fighters deploy with their weapons while chanting slogans against the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, to help the military, which defends the capital in Baghdad’s Sadr City, Iraq. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf petro-powerhouses encouraged a flow of cash to Sunni rebels in Syria for years. But now they face a worrying blowback as an al-Qaida breakaway group that benefited from some of the funding storms across a wide swath of Iraq. Gulf nations fear its extremism could be a threat to them as well. But the tangle of rivalries in the region is complex: Saudi Arabia and its allies firmly oppose any U.S. military action to stop the Islamic State’s advance in Iraq because they don’t want to boost its Shiite-led prime minister or his ally, Iran. (AP Photo/ Karim Kadim, File)

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia and other petro-powerhouses of the Gulf for years encouraged a flow of private cash to Sunni rebels in Syria. Now an al-Qaida breakaway group that benefited from some of that funding has stormed across a wide swath of Iraq, and Gulf nations fear its extremism could be a threat to them as well.

Those countries are trying to put the brakes on the network of private fundraisers sending money to the rebel movement, hoping to halt financing going to the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Fundraising clerics complain that they are being told not to collect money for any Syrian rebels.

“Right now there is a siege. All the Gulf countries that were supportive have barred that support,” Kuwaiti cleric Nabil al-Awadi angrily said on his TV program.

At the same time, the Gulf states sharply oppose any U.S. military assistance to Iraq’s Shiite-led government aimed at stopping the extremists’ rapid advance. And they are furious at the possibility that Washington could cooperate with top rival Iran to help Iraq.

Their stance reflects the complex tangle of national rivalries and sectarian enmities in the region. Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, along with its Gulf allies, have had the primary goal of stopping the influence of mainly Shiite Iran in the Middle East, and they deeply oppose Iran’s ally, Iraqi Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whom they accuse of discriminating against his country’s Sunni minority.

Gulf states are torn over the Islamic State’s victories. While they would welcome a more Sunni-friendly government in Iraq, they also fear Islamic radicals might eventually turn their weapons on the Gulf’s pro-Western monarchies. Gulf leaders also worry Iran will have an even

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