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Thousands of Iraqis protest against Saudi crown prince’s planned visit



Thousands of Iraqis have staged a protest rally in the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad to voice their opposition to an upcoming visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman.

Protesters gathered in Baghdad after Friday prayers, carrying signs calling bin Salman a war criminal and accusing Saudi Arabia of supporting Daesh and al-Qaeda Takfiri terrorists in their country.

The rally was organized by the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades, which is one of the groups that fought against Daesh.

According to the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the Saudi crown prince plans to visit Iraq in the near future, but no date has been set yet.

Iraqi protesters gather in Baghdad on March 30, 2018 to protest the upcoming visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (AP photo)

The Saudi crown prince is already on a trip to the US during which he has met the leaders of a number of pro-Israeli lobbying groups as the kingdom is moving towards normalization of diplomatic relations with Israel.

Bin Salman’s planned visit comes as the governments in Baghdad and Riyadh seek to mend their ties which have been strained for a long time. Abadi visited Riyadh in June last year after diplomatic relations between the two countries were restored in 2016.

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Riyadh has viewed Iraq’s proximity to Iran with enmity. While Iraqi leaders have repeatedly praised Iran’s role in helping the Arab country confront the Takfiri menace, they have accused Saudi Arabia of supporting terrorists.

In April 2017, Abadi said that “every Iraqi citizen has a right to believe that Saudi Arabia is a supporter of terrorism.”

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