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What is Muqtada al-Sadr doing in Iran?

In a surprising appearance, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, known for his criticism of Iran's regional policies, sat next to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iran's Quds commander Qasem Soleimani at a religious assembly.

Muqtada al-Sadr appeared in a surprising video Sept. 10. At an assembly commemorating the third Shiite Imam Hussein Ibn Ali, Sadr can be seen sitting between Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani.

Sadr has criticized Iran’s regional policies, especially in regard to Iraq, since former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took office for the second time in 2010. Sadr showed a clear divergence from Iran, leaning more toward the Arab world and calling for Iraq to return to its Arab environment. The Arab world welcomed Sadr's continued criticism of Iraqi Shiite militias backed by Iran and their presence in Syria.

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