Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah requested permission from Iraq to visit the country’s holy sites for the Shiite holiday of Ashura on November 24, a Kuwaiti daily reported on Monday.
According to the report in Al-Seyassah, Nasrallah wishes to visit the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, learning centers of Shiite Islam.
The daily received the information from an unnamed source in the movement of Shiite conservative leader Muqtada al-Sadr. Nasrallah would meet with religious leaders, including leading Iraqi Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani.
The Shiite militia leader has largely remained in hiding since the Second Lebanon War in 2006. If authorized by the government of Nouri Al-Maliki, this will be Nasrallah’s first visit to Iraq. So far he has only visited Damascus and Tehran, where he does not fear Israeli targeting, the daily noted.
Rafi Abdul Jabbar, a member of Iraq’s Sadrist movement, told Al-Seyassah that Nasrallah will likely travel to Iraq by land for fear of using civil aircraft that are susceptible to Israeli attacks. He presumed that Nasrallah will remain in the country for three or four days.
Sources in Iraq’s pro-Western Iraqiyah bloc warned against Nasrallah’s visit. They told the daily that the visit may destabilize Iraqi society at a sensitive period security-wise, and harm Iraq’s close relations with the United States, which considers Hezbollah a terror organization.
No other sources confirmed Nasrallah’s visit.