Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr visits UAE

moqtada-al-sadr
Baghdad – Iraqi Shia cleric and politician Muqtada al-Sadr is heading to United Arab Emirates on Sunday having received an official invitation for a visit, his office said.

A private plan was sent to fly the once firebrand politician to the Gulf country, said the statement.

The announced visit will possibly stir more debates among observers about Sadr’s unusual diplomatic activity as he came back recently from Saudi Arabia, the arch regional rival of Iran, presumably the biggest patron of Shia political elites and political movements in the Middle East.

UAE is a close Saudi Arabia ally and an opponent to Iran’s regional politics.

The statement gave no further details of the program of the visit.

Iraqi cleric Moqtada Al Sadr with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman / Credit: Saudi Press Agency
Iraqi cleric Moqtada Al Sadr with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman / Credit: Saudi Press Agency

Sadr visited Saudi Arabia for the first time in 11 years on July 30th, met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and discussed regional issues of common interest. While political commentators viewed the visit as a remarkable attempt to break away with the Iran-dominated Iraqi politics, others saw it as a balancing political act designed to get advantage from Sunni Saudi Arabia’s regional weight while staying on good terms with Shia Iran. Some also say it is an attempt by Sadr to embolden his image as a nationalist figure whose orientations can transcend sectarian calculations.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia visits come after apparent rapprochements between Baghdad and Sunni-ruled governments in the region. Besides Sadr, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Riyadh in June, and was followed by Iraqi Interior Minister Qassem al-Araji a month later. In February,  Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir visited Iraq, where he voiced support for Iraq against terrorism.

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  • Rascal

    This is a positive development, as opposed to the Iranian shiite approach of sending terrorist to Saudi land to attack and destabilize. Iraqi are still Arab after all and not particularly fond of the arrogant and demanding Fasi boys who think Iraq is an Iranian colony to plunder.
    Iraq needs to remove Iranian lap dogs from Iraqi political power to move in the direction of peace. Sadr has spent much time in Iran but from what I have read he is more nationalistic for Iraq and against Iranian domination of Iraq.
    He also has a significant following that could oppose Iranian militias in Iraq.

  • Rainbow Sponge

    OMG Iranian backed Hashd got pounded bad!!

    https://twitter.com/A_Ozkok/status/896088218390507520

  • Rascal

    After the US removed Saddam, Iran flooded across the Iraqi boarder by the millions to install and force a sectarian Iraq/Iranian puppet government and push Shiite dominance and religious rule over sunni in the once secular Iraq.
    Shiite Death Squads, anyone? Not much different than ISIS.
    I wish Sadr luck and success in brokering peace and hopefully a secular future government. Ayatollah Sistani never wanted a religious theocracy (Islamic State or Republic) for Iraq like Iran has.
    Another very impressive Iraqi Shiite cleric, Ayad Jamal Al-Din, please read carefully what he says. Iraq need to remove Iran’s influence, politically,and militarily, or the killing will go on for years to come.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jEmhfsKA1I

    Newton’s Third Law
    For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.