ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Former Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri al-Maliki is thus far the sole nominee to the chairmanship of the Shia National Alliance bloc in the Iraqi Parliament, according to an Iraqi lawmaker.
Huda Sajjad, a lawmaker from Maliki's faction within the State of Law coalition, told local Iraqi news outlets on Tuesday that the current Vice-President of Iraq is the only candidate nominated as next chairman of the Shia National Alliance.
The Shia bloc holds over half of the 328 seats in the Iraqi Parliament. It is the country’s largest political bloc, with Ammar al-Hakim currently heading the group.
In 2015, the Alliance party members decided the leadership position would rotate between member parties on a yearly basis. The first chair was current Foreign Minister of Iraq, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, and since Sep. 2016, was occupied by Ammar al-Hakim.
Analysts firmly expect Nouri al-Maliki to become the next head of the dominating coalition in Baghdad, possibly as a move ahead of a run for the Prime-Ministership of Iraq in the next election.
Maliki was the Iraqi Premier from 2006 until Sep. 2014. He is known as a close ally of Iran.
He has repeatedly been criticized for being involved in widespread corruption, his failed policies, and contributing to the rise of the Islamic State (IS) in mid-2014.
The relationship between Erbil and Baghdad significantly deteriorated in his later years as premier. Ties between the two governments have recently worsened following the Sep. 25 referendum on independence, notably with an imposed flight ban over the Kurdistan Region and other measures in retaliation for the vote being held.
Ahead of the referendum, President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani in an interview while in Davos for the World Economic Forum, warned he would immediately declare Kurdistan's independence should Maliki become Prime Minister of Iraq.
Editing by G.H. Renaud