Rivals may Team Up to Defeat Abadi

However, a source in the Islamic Dawa Party close to both Maliki and Abadi said, "There are two indicators that will foil Maliki's attempts to get closer to Barzani."

The source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, "The first indicator is the rejection by some Kurdish political parties of the rapprochement between Maliki and Barzani. The second is related to Iran, which believes that Barzani harms its interests in the Iraqi Kurdistan region and that he allowed the establishment of an operations center in Erbil [for groups] stirring the latest protests in Iranian cities."

Maliki is trying to return to office through the Kurds this time. The political blocs in Baghdad believe Kurds are a decisive card in the election of any prime minister.

Hicham al-Rakabi, director of Maliki's press office, said in a statement Dec. 26, "There is a possibility for an alliance with all political parties, including Barzani’s [KDP], provided they believe in the [will of the] political majority."

In the run-up to the elections, we will see the formation of unlikely alliances to prevent Abadi from winning a second term.

A Maliki-Barzani reconciliation will aim to give Maliki the premiership again and bring Barzani back to the Kurdistan leadership. Still, everything is happening behind closed doors, and the two men have yet to announce their plans for Baghdad and Erbil.

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