Iraq: al-Sadr undertakes ties fostering trip to Kuwait

Winner of May 12 election Muqtada al-Sadr headed to neighboring Kuwait Tuesday as part of plan to develop Iraq’s ties with regional neighbors as he seeks to end US and Iranian influence in Iraq.

Al-Sadr this month was tussled at the helm of the country after his bloc Sairoon stunned analysts by winning 54 seats in parliament beating Iran and US favorites in polls boycotted by many Iraqis.

The vibrant Shia Cleric dismissed plans to play the role of Prime Minister.

Al-Sadr’s visit to Kuwait, according to his office, is meant to improve relations between the two countries.

The Shia leader, in his campaign promises, pledged to scale down Iran and US interference in Iraqi politics. He opposes the presence of American troops (around 5,000) on Iraqi soil.

Despite being Shia, al-Sadr has been very vocal against Tehran’s meddling into Iraqi internal affairs. The Islamic Republic backed the Iraqi army in the defeat of the Islamic State group in December.

The famous cleric has repeatedly blamed Iran and the US of influencing the formation of a new cabinet in the wake of the elections.

Al-Sadr since last year embarked on a regional ties building trail. He travelled to Saudi Arabia and met with Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman. Ties between the two countries had been cut off for over two decades.

Iraq under the last Sunni ruler Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991. Ties between the two countries resumed in recent years with Bagdad agreeing to pay war reparations. Iraq has been instructed to pay remaining $47.8 billion by 2021.

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