Australian FM warns against Iraq withdrawal

Pulling US coalition troops out of Iraq too soon could spark wider conflict throughout the Middle East, Australia's foreign minister said Monday. Al-Qaida is fomenting sectarian violence in Iraq and if the terrorist group succeeds there the consequences for security in the wider Middle East region and elsewhere in the world would be dire, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said. He said Saudi Arabia had significant links to Iraq's Sunni Muslim community, Iran had close ties to Iraq's Shiites, and Turkey has concerns about Iraq's Kurdish population, prompting "very great concern" about a regional war developing if coalition troops leave.