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Iraqi Shia cleric orders removal of anti-Saudi posters in his country

August 5, 2017 at 12:27 pm

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (R) meets with Leader of the Sadrist movement Muqtada Al-Sadr (L) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 30 July 2017 [Bandar Algaloud/Anadolu Agency]

Iraq’s influential Shia leader, Muqtada Al-Sadr, has ordered his followers to remove all anti-Saudi posters in the streets of the country, media sources reported on Friday.

The order was issued after Al Sadr had concluded a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia during which he met with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman. This was his first visit since 2006.

After the Saudi authorities had executed the Saudi Shia cleric, Nimr Al-Nimr, over terrorism charges in January 2016, Iraq’s Shia posted billboards and graffiti in public spaces criticising Saudi Arabia and its rulers.

Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist movement, discussed with the Saudi Crown Prince opening a Saudi consulate in Al-Najaf, Al-Sadr’s stronghold city, to facilitate communication between the two countries.

Both the Iraqi and Saudi officials also discussed opening an airway corridor and land crossings to reinforce commercial exchange between the two countries.

In a statement issued by Al-Sadr’s office, he said: “the parties discussed cooperation in all fields, as well as humanitarian assistance for the refugees and people displaced by war.”

The statement stated that the Saudi King Salman had pledged an additional $10m to be delivered via the Iraqi government for the humanitarian assistance of refugees.

During the meeting, the Saudi officials expressed their desire to name a new ambassador to Baghdad in order to raise the level of the mutual cooperation.

Relations between the two countries improved after the visit of the Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir, to Baghdad in February this year.

That was the first visit of a senior Saudi official to Iraq since 2004. Al-Jubeir announced then that the Kingdom stands in a neutral position towards all the Iraqi sects.