Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Influential Shia cleric and politician Muqtada al-Sadr will head to Egypt soon as per an official invitation, sources within his office were quoted saying Tuesday as the popular leader concluded a visit to United Arab Emirates.
The sources said a date for the Cairo visit had not been yet scheduled.
Sadr’s regional movements have stirred more debates among observers about his unusual diplomatic orientations as he came back recently from Saudi Arabia, the arch regional rival of Iran, presumably the biggest patron of Shia political elites and political movements in the Middle East.
While some commentators view the visits as a remarkable attempt to break away with the Iran-dominated Iraqi politics, others saw it as a balancing act designed to get advantage from Sunni Saudi Arabia’s and UAE’s regional weight while staying on good terms with Shia Iran. Some also say they represent an attempt by Sadr to embolden his image as a nationalist figure whose orientations can transcend sectarian calculations.
Since the election of Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi as president of Egypt in 2014, Cairo has adopted a diplomatic line supporting incumbent governments against Islamic State militancy and rebel groups. Cairo and Baghdad have also declared solidarity in the war against IS and expressed a common desire for enhanced political and economic relations.