Gulf Countries

Iraq’s Moqtada Al-Sadr visits UAE, strengthening ties with Sunni states

Author: ReutersMon, 2017-08-14 00:40ID: 1502646852422534800
IRBIL, Iraq: An influential Iraqi Shiite cleric plans to visit the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, strengthening his ties with Sunni-ruled states of the Middle East.
It will be the second such trip in as many months for Moqtada Al-Sadr, who commands a large following among Iraq’s urban poor. He visited Saudi Arabia at the end of July.
The Emirati government will send a special plane to fly Sadr to the UAE and return him to Iraq, according to a statement on the cleric’s website.
The cleric is one of few Iraqi Shiite leaders to keep some distance from Shiite Iran, the main backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad. In April, Sadr called on Assad to “take a historic heroic decision” and step down, to spare his country further bloodshed.
Sadr’s office said his meetings last month with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, resulted in an agreement to study possible investments in Shiite regions of southern Iraq. The Saudis will also consider the possibility of opening a consulate in Iraq’s holy Shiite city of Najaf, he said.
Sadr also announced a Saudi decision to donate $10 million to help Iraqis displaced by the war on Islamic State in Iraq, to be paid to the Iraqi government.
Baghdad and Riyadh had announced in June they would set up a coordination council to upgrade ties, as part of an attempt to heal troubled relations between the Arab neighbors.
Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad in 2015 following a 25-year break, and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir made a rare visit to Baghdad in February.
(Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli)
Main category: Middle-EastTags: Moqtada Al-SadrIraqIraqi Shiiterelated_nodes: Saudi crown prince meets with Iraq’s Moqtada Al-SadrMoqtada slams govt, ‘tyrant’ PMAl-Sadr calls for control over militias

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