Did Iraq’s Sadr visit Tehran after Green Zone protests?

Prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr speaks during news conference in Najaf, south of Baghdad, April 30, 2016. (Reuters)

A local news website Kulul Iraq - close to the ruling Dawa Party - said Iraq’s Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who recently called on his followers to storm the fortified Green Zone in the capital Baghdad to bring forth reforms promised by the country’s premier, has visited Iran.

The Fars News Agency, which is close to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, also reported that Sadr has recently visited the Islamic republic, quoting a well-informed source in Iraq’s Najaf Airport saying: “Sadr, accompanied by two clerics, departed [the holy city of Najaf for Shiite Muslims in Iraq] on board a jet for an Iranian airliner.”

However, hours after the report was published, the state-run IRNA news agency denied the news and quoted a government source, when it said: “Moqtada al-Sadr has no intention of visiting Iran and he has not traveled to Tehran.”

IRNA added that news of Sadr’s visit to Tehran is a “lie” propagated by some “Arabic language websites.”

Meanwhile, sources, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, told the Arabic-language Al Arabiya Net that Sadr’s visit to Iran is “rumors” spread by the Dawa Party.

Dawa Party is led by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is reportedly close to Iran.

One source in Iraq also confirmed to Al Arabiya Net that Sadr is in his home city of Najaf, adding that the Dawa Party is behind spreading the rumor of his visit to Tehran.

Dia al-Asadi, who heads Al-Ahrar bloc – the political arm of the Sadrist Movement, said in a statement: “I think this issue of Sadr’s travel - if he did in fact travel and I do not know if he did - has taken some strange dimensions. The man has relatives in all of Iraq, [Lebanon’s capital] Beirut and Iran.”

On Sunday, anti-government protesters - many of them are Sadr followers - temporarily ended their mass demonstration in the Green Zone and began an orderly withdrawal a day after tearing down walls around the government district and invading parliament.

The conflicted reports about whether Sadr visited Iran comes after videos circulated online showed his followers chanting during their protests: “Iran, out, out.”

The article first appeared in the Arabic language website of Al Arabiya News Channel.


Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:51 - GMT 06:51