Iraq’s Moqtada al-Sadr Visits Jeddah, Meets with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Iraq’s influential Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr made a rare visit to Saudi Arabia on Sunday, where he met the Saudi crown prince and other officials, according to the SPA and Reuters.

It is the first visit by the powerful anti-American Shi’ite cleric in 11 years. Al-Sadr is the leader of the Sadrist Movement and the leader of Saraya al-Salam, a Shia militia that is a reformation of the previous militia he led during the American occupation of Iraq, the Mahdi Army.

Iraq and Saudi Arabia announced last month they were setting up a coordination council to upgrade strategic ties as part of an attempt to heal troubled relations between the Arab neighbors, Reuters reports. Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad in 2015 following a 25-year break, and in February Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir made a rare visit to Baghdad.

The SPA said the two leaders “reviewed Saudi-Iraqi relations and a number of issues of mutual interest.”