Iraq’s al-Sadr heads to Kuwait for unannounced visit

Shia cleric’s coalition dominated Iraq’s May 12 parliamentary polls
BAGHDAD: Iraqi Shia political leader Muqtada al-Sadr, whose Sairoon bloc dominated Iraq’s May 12 parliamentary polls, left Iraq Tuesday for an unannounced visit to Kuwait, where he is expected to meet with senior Kuwaiti officials.
According to a Tuesday statement issued by al-Sadr’s office, the visit is aimed at “improving relations” between the two countries.
The statement did not provide any additional details.
In Iraq’s May 12 polls, al-Sadr’s Sairoon bloc won 54 seats in parliament, followed by a Hashd al-Shaabi-linked coalition (47 seats) and Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s Victory bloc (42 seats).
While this isn’t enough to allow al-Sadr to unilaterally draw up a government, it means the firebrand Shia cleric — known for his opposition to both the U.S. and Iran — will likely play a key role in selecting the country’s next prime minister.
Unlike Iraqi Shia leaders with close ties to Iran, al-Sadr maintains good relations with the Arab Gulf States, which he frequently visits, especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
A political source close to the Sairoon bloc told Anadolu Agency that al-Sadr hoped to foster an Iraqi foreign policy based on maintaining a balance between Iran and the Arab Gulf States.
During his visit, al-Sadr is expected to meet with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah and other officials, according to the same source.–AA

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