The influential Iraqi Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr on Tuesday (September 10th) met Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, two men who have often opposed each other. A rare interview in a context of divisions between Shiite leaders in Iraq, where Tehran plays a role.
The Islamic Republic of Iran remains, along with the United States, one of the two most influential countries in Iraq , notably via Ghassem Soleimani, the general in charge of the Revolutionary Guards' external operations. He travels regularly to Iraq and has played a major role in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group.
Meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei, but also Iranian Justice Chief Ebrahim Raisi and other officials at a ceremony on Tuesday, Moqtada Sadr sparked controversy in his country, as millions of Shiites made a pilgrimage to Kerbala , in Iraq, for the day of Achoura - one of the most important Shiite commemorations.
In the local media and on social networks, some felt that Iran had " summoned " the turbulent Shia leader. Two years ago, he went to Saudi Arabia, Tehran's great regional rival, and refused to ally himself with the most pro-Iran camp to form a government after the May 2018 legislative elections.
A sign of change of position of Tehran ?
For others, however, this visit and these summit meetings were a sign that Tehran had chosen to support Moqtada Sadr rather than the Fatah camp. This alliance is formed by former anti-IS fighters, mostly from the ranks of pro-Iran Shiite militias.
For, a week ago, Moqtada Sadr, who became the herald of anti-corruption protests and whose tweets are closely followed in Iraq, launched a campaign against this alliance's toughest line, accusing them of wanting to to down "the rule of law " to create a " rogue state ".
He has even said he is ready to withdraw, as he has done in the past with other firms, his confidence in the government.
A visit that is " not a surprise "
Beyond this, Moqtada Sadr maintains close ties with the Iranians, as well as with the family, explains Myriam Benraad, associate researcher at the Institute for Research and Studies on the Arab and Muslim Worlds (Iremam) in Aix-en-Provence: " This The visit can be perceived as surprising, since Moqtada Sadr has chronologically since the war of 2003 maintained a very tense relationship with Iran and its regime, since it has positions that have sometimes been openly anti-Iranian. said the specialist from Iraq. But that being the case, this is not the first time he has been to Iran. "
He has family, religious and personal ties, very close to this country. So, I do not see it as a surprise, although it can also be perceived as a provocation by a part of the Iraqi population, especially Shia. But behind his speeches and his stance, he is not an actor who has not for many years maintained ties with the Iranians.
For Myriam Benraad, associate researcher at Iremam in Aix-en-Provence, the meeting is not surprising 12/09/2019 - by Sami Boukhelifa Play