February 15, 2007

Iraq Government Confirms Sadr In Iran

The controversy over the whereabouts of Moqtada al-Sadr has ended. An advisor to Nouri al-Maliki confirmed on the record that Sadr is in Iran, as the US reported earlier (via Michelle Malkin):

An adviser to Iraq's prime minister said Thursday that radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is in Iran, but denied he fled due to fear of arrest during an escalating security crackdown.

Sami al-Askari said al-Sadr traveled to Iran by land "a few days ago," but gave no further details on how long he would stay in Iran. A member of al-Sadr's bloc in parliament, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisals, said al-Sadr left three weeks ago.

"I confirm that Muqtada al-Sadr is in Iran on a visit," said al-Askari. "But I deny that his visit is a flight."

Sadr's supporters insist that he is still in Iraq, but no one has seen the non-reclusive Shi'ite firebrand in weeks. If Sadr remains in Najaf, as his mouthpieces claim, all he has to do is show himself. He could call a press conference or hold a rally; the US wouldnt stop him from either activity, and it would prove that he didn't tuck tail and run from the new US/Iraqi security program for Baghdad.

Askari never spoke to why Sadr went to Iran, nor why most of his Mahdi command went with him. Iraq has plenty of space for such meetings, and the southern third of the country is sympathetic to the Shi'ite political cause. What could Sadr and the Mahdis do in Iran that they could not in Najaf or Basra? Perhaps they could not count on unfettered access to Iranian counsel and protection outside of Iran, now that the US has stepped up its action against Iranian agents in Iraq and Maliki withdrew his political protection from Sadr City.

Skeptics have claimed that Sadr's flight was an American fantasy, and that the Mahdi command's move to Teheran was sheer speculation. Now the Iraqi government has confirmed Sadr's bug-out. Will that convince people that the new effort to secure Baghdad and the center of Iraq has had a serious impact on one of the primary targets of the surge strategy?

UPDATE: Random Numbers channels Monty Python.

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Well, Mookie Al-Sadr has left Iraq. There are conflicting ideas to why he fled to Iran, But I like Random Numbers the best:Brave Al-Sadr ran away.Bravely ran away, away!When danger reared its ugly head,He bravely turned his tail and fled.Yes, [Read More]

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