ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has offered reconciliation with influential Shiite cleric and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr, hinting about his hopes of returning to power again.
Speaking to al-Shariqyah TV on Thursday, Maliki said that he is ready to reconcile with Sadr.
“My hand is open to everyone who wants to reconcile with me. I do not want rivalries, and I do not want disputes to continue, neither with Muqtada al-Sadr nor with anyone else,” said the current leader of the State of Law coalition.
Sadr leads the Sairoon coalition, the largest bloc in the Iraqi parliament, which has recently began speaking explicitly about its desire to head the next government.
The Shiite cleric is Maliki’s most prominent opponent. Maliki also faces resistance from Iraq’s Shiite religious figures, led by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who supported his removal from power in 2014.
Maliki confirmed that the Will movement, led by former MP Hanan al-Fatlaw, will ally with the State of Law in the upcoming elections, but he is “afraid” of international supervision on the upcoming elections.
Parliamentary elections in 2014 toppled Maliki after two successive terms in office. He has been widely criticized for his response to the rise of ISIS, and its occupation of Mosul.
There is a history of disputes between Maliki and Sadr, the most recent of which took place in February.
The bickering began with statements by Maliki, in which he said that he would not allow “the Batta [duck] to frighten people again.”
Batta is an Iraqi nickname for vehicles used by the Sadr-affiliated militia Mahdi Army to kidnap and murder people during sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007.
A close associate of Sadr, Salih Muhammad al-Iraqi, responded, saying :”the Batta is the only solution to the corrupt, and to those who sold Iraq to ISIS,” referring to Maliki.
Iraq had initially planned to hold early elections on June 6. However, in January, Iraq’s council of ministers decided to postpone the elections to October 10.