Iraq's secular political party, which won the recent election, faces a new challenge after two minority Shi'a Muslim parties announced a coalition.
The coalition between the Iraqi National Alliance and The State of Law bloc, led by incumbent Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, will fall short of the minimum seats needed to form a government.
However it will deal a blow to the Iraqiya bloc, led by former Prime Minister Iayd Allawi, which won a two-seat victory in the recent elections.
"An agreement was reached to form the largest parliamentary bloc through the union of the two blocs," said Abdul Razzaq al-Kadhami, an adviser to Ibrahim Jaafari—the leading candidate to become the next prime minister.
"The most important thing is to form an Iraqi government, to establish a government program and to nominate the next prime minister,” he said.