Saudi Arabia’s former ambassador to Iraq, who had been removed from Baghdad at the Iraqi government’s request for meddling in the country’s internal affairs, has been appointed to a senior position in the Saudi Foreign Ministry.
A royal decree on Sunday assigned Thamer Al-Sabhan to the position of the so-called minister of state for [Persian] Gulf Affairs, Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya television reported on its website.
Back in August, senior Iraqi officials requested Riyadh to replace the 49-year-old diplomat. Pro-Riyadh news outlets had earlier alleged that fighters from Popular Mobilization Units, an Iraqi force comprising anti-terror volunteer fighters, had devised plots to murder the Saudi envoy. Back at the time, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry dismissed the reports, saying such claims were only meant to damage relations between Baghdad and Riyadh.
Sabhan had on occasions received warnings from Iraqi officials for interference in the country’s internal affairs. In June, no less a person than Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi himself strongly advised Sabhan to remain committed to his diplomatic duties only and avoid meddling in Iraq’s domestic affairs.
Riyadh recently withdrew the ambassador. Instead of naming a new envoy, however, Saudi Arabia seconded Abdulaziz al-Shammari as chargé d’affaires at its diplomatic mission in the Iraqi capital, in what is regarded as a unilateral downgrading of diplomatic ties with Iraq. Iraq has not recognized the unilateral move yet, however.
On Saturday, Iraqi Foreign Ministry said a Saudi Arabian individual had hacked its website, putting offensive, sectarian-charged content on it.
The cyber-attack came only a day after the ministry reacted harshly to earlier remarks by Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who had said Baghdad should not enlist the Popular Mobilization forces in its pending push to liberate the northern city of Mosul from the Takfiri terror group of Daesh.
The fighters have proven a pivotal force in extricating the country from the clutches of the terrorists, who have been ravaging it since 2014.