Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malilki has created a new political bloc, reportedly with Iran's blessing, in preparation for the 2018 parliamentary elections, according to a leading member of the Dawa party.
Maliki was removed from office in a "white coup" at the end of 2014 by members of his Islamic Dawa party and other parliamentarians.
Maliki's new grouping, "The Popular Mobilisation Parliamentary Bloc", will also run in the provincial elections scheduled for 2017.
A leading member of the Dawa Party, close to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, said that Maliki met with the leader of the Badr militia, Hadi al-Amiri, as well as the Asaib Ahl al-Haq leader, Qais al-Khazali, and the deputy leader of the Popular Mobilisation, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, alongside the Harakat al-Nujaba leader, Akram al-Kabi
The idea was reportedly approved by the commander of Iran's elite Quds Force, Major-General Qassem Soleimani, who has not, of late, been on good terms with Abadi, according to the Dawa Party source.
"Maliki is counting on the support of southern provinces for the Popular Mobilisation militias, who are fighting against Islamic State group and keeping them away from holy cities," they said.
He added that Iran received assurances from Maliki and Popular Mobilisation leaders regarding Tehran's agenda in Iraq.
The US and the West are concerned about the effect that Maliki's new move will have on the future of Abadi's government, which has started to show early bruises from internal disputes - after lawmakers from within Abadi's own National Alliance party started to demand the formation of a new government.
One minister in Abadi's government said the current disputes between the prime minister and his party was connected with Abadi's rejection of Russian intervention in the country, and because the prime minister is pressing ahead with reforms that may harm "corrupt" members of the party.
"Shia political parties are discussing Maliki's new political project, [and] find his move to be an attempt to steal the Popular Mobilisation to further his own interests," the minister added.
Mohammad al-Hadithi, a professor of political sciences in Salahuddin University in Iraq, told al-Araby al-Jadeed that Maliki's move was "predictable, but not in its current form".
He said that Maliki's exploitation of the Popular Mobilisation could "infuriate the Sadrist Movement, the Islamic Supreme Council, the Fadhila party, and other parties who have fighters or military wings within Popular Mobilisation."