Rivals may Team Up to Defeat Abadi

The deputy said Maliki will soon meet with the National Iraq Alliance — mostly a Shiite umbrella coalition that includes the Dawa and State of Law parties — to explain his potential alliance with Barzani. Their connection concerns the coalition because of the role Barzani played in the KRG independence referendum, which Iraq's Supreme Federal Court found to be unconstitutional. But the KDP, which views Abadi negatively, sees the advantage of the connection, which gives Abadi reason to worry.

Maliki attended the Jan. 4 meetings organized by the official envoy from the Iraqi Kurdistan Region to discuss the consequences resulting from the Kurdish referendum of Sept. 25: Federal forces fought for and won control of the oil-rich disputed areas the KRG had held, and the government imposed sanctions such as banning flights and demanded control over border crossings. Meanwhile, Barzani stepped down as KRG president.

Opposing Abadi would be the main reason Maliki and Barzani would consider forming an alliance. Abadi deprived Maliki of a third term as prime minister and kept Barzani from realizing his dream of Kurdish independence.

Maliki's media adviser, Abbas al-Moussawi, told Al-Monitor in an interview, "There are no official meetings [scheduled] between Maliki and Barzani, but the meetings between the State of Law Coalition and Kurdish political forces are ongoing. Every popular or political Kurdish envoy coming to Baghdad is meeting Maliki."

Tariq Sadiq, a KDP deputy, was more straightforward. He said Maliki and KDP leaders are meeting, and the rapprochement might "become a political alliance in the future."

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