While Iraqi political blocs are discussing the fate of the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled to be held on Oct. 10, especially after the withdrawal the Sadrist movement led by Muqtada al-Sadr, the head of the State of Law coalition, Nouri al-Maliki made a visit to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region, where he met with Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani.
The meeting between the two men came after a long rupture, especially during Maliki’s chairmanship of the Iraqi government for two terms (2006-2014). The second tenure witnessed sharp divisions over political positions between the two sides.
While the visit seemed surprising to political observers who know the nature of the relationship between Maliki and Barzani, the former Kurdish deputy in the Iraqi parliament, Dr. Majid Shankali, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the meeting was “not a surprise, but rather was scheduled a while ago.”
He continued: “Maliki is an important political leader, and therefore his visit to Erbil and his meeting with Barzani as one of the most prominent Kurdish leaders after 2003 is very expected, especially in light of the current circumstances and the many rumors being spread here and there about postponing the elections.”
Shankali went on to say that Barzani and Maliki’s assertion that the elections would be held on time represented a great impetus for the electoral process.
He underlined the importance of the visit “to build some kind of understandings with the Kurdistan Democratic Party in the post-election stage and to create alliances that contribute to the formation of the next government.”
Meanwhile, Maliki’s Islamic Dawa Party issued a statement saying that the visit “comes in the context of the well-established brotherly relations between the Islamic Dawa Party and the Kurdistan Democratic Party.”
The two leaders “discussed and exchanged views on the political situation in Iraq and the region, the dangers of terrorism and the challenges facing the political process,” according to the statement.
It is noteworthy that the features of an alliance between the leader of the Sadrist movement and the Kurdistan Democratic Party became clear during a visit by a delegation from the political body of the Sadrist movement to Erbil, and its meeting with Barzani days before Sadr announced his withdrawal from the elections.
But Maliki’s visit to Erbil is expected to rearrange alliances and prompt the two parties’ opponents to unite their ranks by forming a counter-alliance. In fact, the meeting seemed the most serious provocation to Sadr, who had announced his withdrawal from the elections.