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Muqtada Sadr and the great sectarian tussle

Mashari Althaydi

Published: Updated:

Iraq’s Shiite cleric and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr’s visits to Saudi Arabia and the UAE have changed a few hearts and opened outlets.

Two weeks after visiting Jeddah, and his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Muqtada al-Sadr visited the UAE and the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Both meetings proved fruitful and timely.

In Abu Dhabi, the popular Shiite leader with his black turban met with the Sunni Sheikh of Iraq, Sheikh Ahmed al-Qubaisi who was wearing his red Kufiyah. Both leaders said that they were seeking the common good of Iraq, the Shiites and Sunnis alike.
According to the UAE news agency, the focus was on the words of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, to Muqtada al-Sadr, who said: “Past experiences taught us to always call for what brings Arabs and Muslims together, and to reject the advocates of division and rift.”

This noble endeavor, which affects a large number of Iraqi Shiites, is admirable, not because he is trying to get close to Saudi Arabia or the UAE, as some may imagine, but because he wants his country Iraq to have a safe and prosperous future.
This is a significant step, which seeks to obliterate the ongoing tussle between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq.

The well-being of Iraq reflects on all Arabs and Muslims in general as Iraq is the place where all sects were born

Mashari Althaydi

Process of conciliation

This Iraq-Gulf rapprochement is vital even though it has come a tad too late. Saudi Arabia started this process of conciliation after Riyadh and Baghdad announced in June that they would form a coordination council in an effort to improve relations. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubair’s visit to Baghdad in February furthered this process.

The well-being of Iraq reflects on all Arabs and Muslims in general as Iraq is the place where all sects were born. The first Khawarej battle, the Battle of Nahrawan, the clash between Umiyah and Hashem, the Battle of Saffeen, and the tragedy of Karbala, all took place on the battlefield of Iraq.

The symbol of the first Muʿtazila, Wasel bin Atta, the founder Salafist, Ahmed bin Hanbal, and the prominent Shiite Sheikh Shaykh Tusi, are all men of Iraq. Therefore, Iraq and its people find an important place in the Muslim mind.

Also read: The blessed Iraqi movement

Muqtada al-Sadr’s steps may seem small to some but they resemble the steps of American astronaut Neil Armstrong in the sense that they are huge for Arabs and Muslims at this difficult time.

In April, he became the first Iraqi Shiite leader to urge Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave power, showing his disagreement with Iran and the fighters supporting the Syrian government.

Sadr’s office said the meeting with Prince Mohammed at the end of July resulted in an agreement to study possible investments in Shi’ite areas in southern Iraq.

This article is also available in Arabic.
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Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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