Iraq’s Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has banned protests during this month’s Arab League summit, hoping to avoid scenes that could embarrass Gulf rulers and their Baghdad hosts.
Iraq is hosting an Arab League summit on March 27-29 for the first time in more than 20 years, an event that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government touts as Baghdad’s diplomatic debut after the withdrawal of US forces last year.
But the summit risks drawing attention to the chilly relations between Iraq - which has a Shia Muslim majority and a Shia-led government - and the Gulf Arab states.
Thousands of Sadr’s followers have staged demonstrations over Bahrain. At the most recent demonstrations last Friday, Sadr’s followers burned Saudi and Bahraini flags and chanted slogans against both countries.
Sadr’s website said the cleric - whose movement is part of Iraq’s ruling coalition - had ordered his followers not to stage protests during the summit.
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