Former Iraqi prime minister Nouri Maliki visited Iran on November 25th, 2015 and returned to Iraq after staying in Tehran for two weeks. Political, intelligence and military officials in Iran in their meetings with Maliki portrayed his road map for the future of Iraq. What Maliki gained from this visit to Tehran was Iran’s permission for him to seriously begin his political activities for the future elections.
Iranian officials ensured they will support his prime ministry. However, instead of taking practical measures against current Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, they are resorting to various tactics aimed at pursuing the policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Iraq in order to have al-Abadi on board.
Iran emphasized to Maliki to forever maintain the Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) and Quds Force-associated Shiite militia groups as an unofficial military leverage to obtain political powers. This is exactly why Maliki’s contact with senior Shiite militia officials and PMF commanders has increased significantly.
Maliki began some of his political activities in November, yet after returning from Tehran his efforts became much more serious in nature. One of Maliki’s inner circle referred to his delight after returning from Iran, saying Maliki’s objective in this visit was to gain Iranian officials’ agreement for the prime ministry post in the future. If Khamenei agreed he would launch his activities through enhanced planning.
In his visit to Tehran Maliki highlighted Iran’s advantages in Iraq under his premiership in comparison to Abadi’s tenure. Maliki told officials in Iran that during his 8-year tenure he never imposed any political or military on Iran in Iraq. However, under Abadi Iran is now deprived of a number of its major and fundamental advantages in Iraq.
The Quds Force has specified a number of phases in planning Maliki’s political road map for the future, and Maliki is missioned to surpass these phases successfully before future parliament elections. Based on these stipulations, in the first stage Maliki must reach a political unity with Sunni and Kurdish political figures in order to align them with his premiership. In this regard following his return from Tehran Maliki held meetings with a number of Kurdish officials and Sunni political figures whom he enjoyed good relations back during his premiership. In his meetings with officials of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) he negotiated on terms to gain their support for his run for the prime ministry in the future. However, these talks have yet to reach any full agreements. Maliki sends reports of all his meetings with Sunni and Kurdish officials to Hassan Dana’ifar, Iranian ambassador to Iraq. On the issue of gaining the Kurds’ to support Maliki’s premiership Dana’ifar has said they will finally get on board under pressures imposed by Iran.
Another phase Maliki has to pass is gaining the West’s support, and especially the U.S. government. Up to two months ago Maliki had a very strong stance against Washington and its policies in Iraq. From late December Iran’s embassy in Baghdad ordered Maliki to act in unity with the U.S. and Western countries, and not get involved in anti-American remarks. Maliki has launched negotiations with U.S. political figures who followed up matters in Iraq during his tenure has prime minister.
Although he doesn’t have an official post in the government, Maliki has begun meeting with various ambassadors in Baghdad, and also the U.N. Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Iraq. His objective in these meetings is to portray an image of a failed al-Abadi government.
Maliki also needs to gain the support of the senior Shiite leaders, especially Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in order to regain the prime ministry. Iran had already specified for Maliki it has no influence on gaining the Sistani’s support for his prime ministry because the Shiite leader did not back Maliki’s bid for a third term as prime minister. However, the Islamic republic will attempt to gain the Shiite religious leaders’ consent and support in this regard.
Maliki has launched various measures across Iraq to gain a political image and to pursue his elections goals. Meeting with leaders of religious minorities; tribal sheikhs in the southern and central provinces, especially Anbar; and meeting with the families of militia members and PMF fighters were a part of his activities to this day. On January 13th Maliki visited the injured and maimed Shiite militia and PMF fighters, distributing large sums of money amongst them.
For political propaganda purposes Maliki has appointed members of his inner circle to the affairs of displaced people – both for domestic and international purposes – to collect donations from Western countries for the displaced people in Iraq and launch vast propaganda against Sunni political figures.