Pro-Iran cleric Ammar al-Hakim visits Saudi Arabia amid Iraq political chaos

Pro-Iran cleric Ammar al-Hakim visits Saudi Arabia amid Iraq political chaos
2 min read
19 August, 2022
The Shia cleric and key political player visited Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, where he discussed Iraq's political impasse with some of the Gulf kingdom's most senior leaders.
Ammar al-Hakim's Hikma movement is at odds with Muqtada al-Sadr and his party [Anadolu via Getty]

The leader of one of Iraq's biggest pro-Iran Shia political groups met with officials in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, hours after talks in Baghdad to resolve the political crisis in Iraq.

During his visit to the Gulf kingdom, Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Hikma movement, met with senior Saudi leaders including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Hakim and the Saudi officials discussed the current political deadlock in Iraq that has left the country without a government since last October's parliamentary elections.

"We discussed the developments in the Iraqi arena and stressed that dialogue between the various parties is the best way to reach satisfactory solutions to the current political impasse in Iraq," he said on Twitter.

Hakim landed in Saudi Arabia just hours after a crisis resolution meeting between Iraqi political leaders took place.

But the meeting, headed by prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, seemed doomed to fail from the outset as the party of influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr failed to attend.

Sadr and his political rivals - Iran-backed Shia groups including the Hikma movement - have been at odds since the elections. Sadr won the largest share of seats in the October vote, but failed to form a majority government.

His bloc later resigned from parliament and his supporters last month stormed the parliament building in Baghdad. He demanded that parliament be dissolved and early elections held.

Iran-backed political groups have traditionally not shared ties with Saudi Arabia, Iran's biggest regional rival.

However, tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have somewhat thawed in recent years, in part due to several rounds of talks between the two countries mediated by Iraq.