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The New Arab Staff

Iraq cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr offers to help end rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran

Muqtada Al-Sadr says dialogue between Iran and Saudi Arabia will be good for Iraq. [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 January, 2021

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The leader of the Sadrist movement in Iraq has offered to mediate a dialogue between regional adversaries Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Iraqi cleric  Muqtada Al-Sadr has offered to serve as a mediator in potential talks between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia, in cooperation with Qatar. 

An official from the office of the leader of the Sadrist movement in Iraq said: "There is an attempt by Qatar to open a dialogue between the two neighbours, Saudi Arabia and Iran."

He added that Al-Sadr has expressed his readiness to cooperate and help create positive impacts in Iraq

Neither Iran, Saudi Arabia or Qatar responded to the Shia Muslim cleric's statements, but Doha has previously called for regional dialogue, to which Tehran responded positively. 

Al-Sadr's office said the Iraqi leader "calls on the neighbouring countries to preserve the sovereignty of Iraq and not interfere in its internal affairs, just as Iraq should not interfere in their affairs".

With its mixed Shia and Sunni population, Iraq has served as an arena for competing regional influence, further intensifying the sectarian elements in the country's past conflict. 

Iran and Saudi Arabia have long been regional foes and tensions have further escalated with attacks on the kingdom from Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The Houthi movement and Iran, however, have both denied being behind drone explosions over Riyadh last the weekend. 

Al-Sadr's comments follow recent reconciliations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt, who had engaged in a boycott of the Gulf nation since 2017. 

Since diplomatic relations resumed between Iraq and Iran, following the ousting of Saddam Hussein, Saudi Arabia has viewed Iraq warily and only re-established diplomatic ties in 2015.

Read more: The Iraq Report: Sectarian killings revive fears of strife under an 'unsustainable' system

Saudi Arabia cut off relations in 1990 following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.  

Diplomatic relations in the region are currently being reevaluated with Joe Biden moving into the White House. The Biden administration is looking to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal. 

This is not the first time Muqtada Al-Sadr has offered to mediate and in 2018 made a similar offer to held end the rift between the two regional powerhouses.

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