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Saudi King Invites Ahmadinejad to 'Extraordinary' Islamic Solidarity Meeting in Mecca


"Unifying the ranks" of Muslims

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shakes hands with Saudi Arabian King Abdullah. (Photo: AP)

The AFP is reporting that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to an "extraordinary" Islamic solidarity meeting in Mecca in mid-August, with the intention of "unifying the ranks" of Muslims.

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The AFP adds a bit of background:

Tensions have been running high between the Sunni-dominated kingdom and Shiite Iran as both regional powers had taken opposite stances on the uprisings in Bahrain and Syria.

Iran had voiced support to a Shiite-led uprising in Bahrain which Saudi Arabia had sent troops to crush last year.

In Syria, the kingdom had called for arming rebels against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad -- who belongs to the Alawite minority, an off-shoot of Shiite Islam -- while Iran has been repeatedly accused of sending military aid to the Syrian government. Tehran has denied the claims.

But Saudi Arabia now is trying to promote unity within the Muslim world, and is reaching out to Iran in the process.

“Strengthening the unity and solidarity of the Islamic Ummah [nation] is the summit’s main agenda,” Muhammad bin Ahmed Tayeb explained, saying they have made all the preparations to ensure the summit is a big success.

Commenters are divided on the significance of the invitation.  Some say it is expected, while others are uncomfortable about the prospect of Saudi Arabia being an open ally of Iran.

"This is not good for Israel," one AFP commenter wrote.

Another suggested the invitation is about "consolidating an Islamic power influence political and economic policy on a global scale," and the "finer points" of Shia and Sunni beliefs can be worked out later.

(H/T: Drudge Report)

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