Saudi Arabia on Monday rejected accusations by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that Riyadh and Qatar are funding Sunni Muslim insurgents his troops are battling in Iraq’s western Anbar province.

Maliki’s remarks to France 24 television late on Saturday appeared to play to Iraqi fears of meddling by Sunni Arab states as he tries to burnish his image as a defender of Shi’ite-majority Iraq before elections next month.

Iraqi forces have been fighting insurgents of the al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Anbar’s two main cities since January 1. ISIL overran Falluja and parts of Ramadi after a tribal revolt provoked by the arrest of a Sunni lawmaker and the clearing of an anti-government protest camp.