The foreign ministry in Iraq has recalled its charge d’affaires in Doha for consultation over Qatar’s hosting of a conference that included a number of figures “wanted for justice” in Iraq.
Iraqi ministry spokesman Ahmad Jamal told Al Jazeera that Baghdad’s move came as a result of Qatar’s “reluctance to explain the motives” behind hosting a political conference.
The event last week “was held in the Qatari capital Doha without the knowledge of the Iraqi government”, Jamal said.
Attendees at the conference included former Finance Minister Rafi Al-Issawi and former Vice President Tareq Al-Hashemi. Both Sunni politicians have arrest warrants issued against them under anti-terrorism laws.
Jamal described the conference as “blatant interference in Iraq’s internal affairs”.
Journalists were not allowed near the conference venue.
Qatari diplomatic sources told the London-based paper al-Araby al-Jadeed that the Iraqi authorities were fully aware of the conference in advance and that the Iraqi defence minister was invited but “declined due to an emergency condition”.
The closed-door meeting included several Sunni groups and was intended to unify the Sunni voice that would then call for a UN-backed national reconciliation conference, the paper said.
Jamal said the event threatened “to harm the fraternal relations between the Republic of Iraq and the sister state of Qatar”.
The conference last Thursday coincided with an official visit to Qatar by the Iraqi Speaker of the Parliament Salim al-Jabouri who later issued a statement to clarify that he was not involved in the conference.
Tensions between the Sunni-ruled states of the Gulf and Iraq, which has a Shia Muslim majority, have eased since Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi took office last year.
Qatar earlier this year reopened an embassy in Baghdad for the first time since its closure in 1990 in light of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.