Our friend and ally receives our bitter enemy. Is this a sign that King Abdullah knows who will eventually be coming to power in Iraq? From Middle East Online, with thanks to JE:
MINA, Saudi Arabia – Saudi King Abdullah has received radical Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr at his palace in Mina near the Muslim holy city of Mecca, as the annual hajj pilgrimage winds down.
“The meeting was to strengthen relations between the two countries,” the firebrand cleric said on Wednesday, declining to give details.
Saudi state television broadcast footage of the meeting which took place late Tuesday, after which the Saudi monarch appeared showing Sadr around the palace.
King Abdullah received Sadr again on Wednesday as part of a reception for dignitaries and world leaders.
Sadr who led a bloody rebellion against US-led forces in Iraq in 2004, walked into the sumptuous conference room in his hallmark black robes and turban and sat to the left of the king.
He later expressed pessimism about the future of his war-torn country following the December 15 legislative polls.
“I am pessimistic (about the future of Iraq). Fanaticism and branding others as apostates dominate now,” said Sadr, who was in Saudi Arabia to perform the hajj for the first time in his life.
Sadr travelled overland from Iraq and was told by Saudi officials upon arrival that he was a guest of the king, according to the head of the Iraqi hajj delegation, Sheikh Khaled al-Atiyah.
Sadr, who only speaks Arabic, has rarely travelled abroad. His only known trip outside Iraq was to neighbouring Iran to take part in a June 2003 commemoration of the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The King Abdullah-Sadr meeting was significant because of past tensions between the ultra-conservative Sunni kingdom and radical Shiites in the Middle East.