Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr arrived to Saudi Arabia on his first official visit to it in 11 years. Minister of State for Arab Gulf Affairs, Thamer al-Sbahan, welcomed Al-Sadr and his accompanying delegation, which includes clerics and members of the Iraqi Sadrist Movement at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.
According to the official statement of the Al-Sadr office, the visit was “based on an official invitation from the Kingdom.”
However, more rumors appeared on the alleged goal of the Al-Sadr visit.
“Al-Sadr’s visit to Saudi Arabia confirms the importance of restoring relations between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and he will meet with a number of leaders of the Kingdom,” a source said commenting the visit. “Al-Sadr is one of the few Shiite clerics in Iraq who demand the need to establish balanced relations with all neighboring countries.”
According to the source source, Al-Sadr works to deny the general idea that Iraq is a follower of Iran.
“Al-Sadr violates the Iranian orientation in several issues of the region, especially the situation in Syria,” the source said pointing out that Al-Sadr is working to end the existence of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).
“Iran is trying to strengthen PMU at the expense of the government forces, but Al-Sadr rejects this trend and has repeatedly called for dissolving PMU and integrating it with the official forces at the end of the war against ISIS.”
The Iraqi source’s words have not been confirmed yet, but Al-Sadr has already taken several moves against Iran over the past period. His followers have even cheered against Iran in several occasions.
He also called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave after the US missile strike on Al-Shaerat airport in Syria, reflecting already the new approach of Al-Sadr.