Jordan’s King Abdallah receives Moqtada Sadr
Jordan’s King Abdallah receives Moqtada Sadr
Al-Abadi visited the king on Sunday, following a high-level Saudi-Iraq summit attended by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Jordan’s official news agency, Petra, said that, during Monday’s meeting at Al-Husseiniya Palace, King Abdallah and Sadr focused on the importance of cementing economic and trade ties “in a manner to serve the common interest of the two countries and peoples.”
King Abdallah reportedly stressed how important it was “to preserve Iraq's territorial integrity and safety,” and praised the Iraqi army's victories against Daesh.
He also commended Sadr's nationalist and pan-Arabist approach, noting, in this context, the “positive improvement in Iraq's relations with Arab countries,” according to Petra.
Oraib Rantawi, director of the Amman-based Al-Quds Center for Political Studies, told Arab News that Jordan’s invitation to Sadr to meet with the king is part of a regional effort to distance Iraq from Iran.
“Moqtada Sadr is a Shiite Arabist and is opposed to Iranian hegemony,” Rantawi explained. He added that Sadr had taken a “strong position against” Iraq’s previous Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, who was widely perceived as pro-Iranian.
Sadr’s visit, Rantawi said, “fits neatly within the new Saudi strategy, which is aimed to bring Shiites who are against Al-Maliki closer to the Arab Sunni position.”
Sadr, Rantawi added, is “one of the few Iraqi leaders who can move the masses quickly.”
The Sadrist Movement currently holds 35 seats in the Iraqi Parliament, and his militia, Saraya Al-Salam is, Rantawi said, “very popular.”
Jordan’s interest in the meeting, Rantawi believes, is due to the proposed Iraqi-Jordanian pipeline — a crucial development for the energy-poor kingdom.
“Oil is pumped in Shiite-controlled areas and transported through Sunni-controlled areas; therefore Jordan’s interest is to have good relations with all components of Iraq,” Rantawi said.
Bassam Al-Amoush, former Jordanian minister of parliamentary affairs and former ambassador to Iran, told Arab News that this was not Sadr’s first visit to Amman.
“Jordan has good relations with all political components in Iraq, including the various Sunni tribes in Ramadi, Prime Minister Al-Abadi, and the Kurds,” Al-Amoush said.
He added that Jordan’s interests are not only related to oil: “Jordan has geopolitical interests in Iraq and is concerned about Iranian influence there, which some say constitutes Persian hegemony.”
The visits of Al-Abadi and Sadr appear to be part of a post-Daesh political reorganization of the region.
“Everyone wants to fill the empty space that they have left,” Rantawi said.
Israel threatens to get tougher on Gaza after warplanes hit Hamas
- Israeli planes initially targeted three Hamas military positions overnight in Gaza in response to kites and balloons carrying incendiary and explosive devices launched into Israel
- The military wings of Hamas and allied militant group Islamic Jihad said they had “targeted seven Israeli military positions near Gaza
GAZA CITY: Israeli warplanes pounded Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday in a new flare-up of hostilities that saw dozens of rockets and mortar shells fired from the Palestinian enclave, the army said.
The strikes targeting Hamas’ military wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, were more intense than in previous sorties to convey the message “we will not allow this situation to continue,” Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus told reporters.
The latest spike in tensions follows weeks of deadly protests and clashes along the Gaza-Israel border as well as the worst military escalation last month since a 2014 war.
It comes as US President Donald Trump’s special envoy Jason Greenblatt and adviser Jared Kushner visit the region to discuss issues including the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
Israeli planes initially targeted three Hamas military positions overnight in Gaza in response to kites and balloons carrying incendiary and explosive devices launched into Israel from the Palestinian territory, the army said.
“They may look like toys but I can assure they are not toys, they are weapons intended to kill and to inflict damage,” Conricus said.
He said that so far Israel had sought to warn off those launching the airborne devices but that could change.
“Hamas and other militants, but mainly Hamas” hit back after the first air raids with more than 45 rockets and mortar rounds fired from Gaza toward Israel, seven of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, he added.
Three more landed inside the Jewish state, he said, but did not account for the remainder.
In response, Israeli planes carried out more raids against 25 “terror objectives” including an underground training compound, according to the army.
Gaza medical sources said that five people were lightly injured in the strikes.
In a joint statement, the military wings of Hamas and allied militant group Islamic Jihad said they had “targeted seven Israeli military positions near Gaza... in response to continued Israeli aggression against resistance sites in Gaza.”
Conricus said that most of the 200,000 Israeli civilians who live within range of the short-range rockets fired from Gaza “spent the night in bomb shelters.”