Gen. Wesley Clark: Saudis, Qatar Created ISIS Threat

Image: Gen. Wesley Clark: Saudis, Qatar Created ISIS Threat (Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

Monday, 25 Aug 2014 06:50 PM

By Greg Richter

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Retired Gen. Wesley Clark says Saudi Arabia and Qatar should take responsibility for creating the threat that both they and the West now face from the Islamic State (ISIS).

"The Saudis have for years funded extremism. Their money's all over the region," Clark said Monday on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."

The Saudi monarchy has bought billions of dollars' worth of U.S. weapons over the years and funneled them to extremist groups, he said.

"It can't be exporting extremism and at the same time ask the United States to protect it," Clark said. "This ISIS threat is going eventually to be pointed like a dagger right at the heart of the Saudi regime."

ISIS has taken over large portions of northern Iraq and eastern Syria in what it says is an attempt to establish a worldwide caliphate. Though neighboring Arab countries face the more immediate threat, they aren't acting because the Arab League isn't unified, Clark said.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar both have given weapons to the Free Syrian Army, fighting the Bashar Assad regime in Syria, but some of those weapons may also have gone to the extremist jihadi group al-Nusra Front, and even to ISIS before it was known it was a threat, Clark said.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia are rivals for Sunni leadership, he said, but they need to come together to join forces against the Islamic State.

The United States can provide "combat multipliers," he told CNN, but shouldn't be putting U.S. soldiers on the ground "carrying the burden for Saudi Arabia and Qatar."

Those countries should lead the effort, he said, because "they created this problem, along with Bashar Assad."

Clark disagreed with a tweet from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham that was critical of inaction against the Islamic State by President Barack Obama.

Clark said he respects Graham, "but in this case I think the White House is wisely marking time while it sorts out the situation on the ground. It wants to go in in an effective way — not simply stir the pot with a bunch of ineffective airstrikes somewhere."

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