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A Sadr farewell

Posted by Richard on February 14, 2007

Many members of Congress doubt that the U.S. troop increase will be effective or that the Iraqi government can quell the sectarian strife. Apparently, their skepticism wasn’t shared by Muqtada al Sadr, the pudgy, rodent-like, radical Shi’ite cleric. He scurried away shortly after the new plan was announced (emphasis added):

According to senior military officials, al Sadr left Baghdad two to three weeks ago and fled to Tehran, Iran, where he has family.

Al Sadr commands the Mahdi army, one of the most formidable insurgent militias in Iraq, and his move coincides with the announced U.S. troop surge in Baghdad.

Sources believe al Sadr is worried about an increase of 20,000 U.S. troops in the Iraqi capital. One official told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, "He is scared he will get a JDAM [bomb] dropped on his house."

According to Allahpundit, it isn’t really news:

No surprises here, though: the Times of London reported on January 27th that Mahdi Army capos had slipped across the border — on Maliki’s advice — and were planning to ride out the surge in Iran while U.S. troops hammer Sunni jihadis in Baghdad. Bob Owens wrote a post just yesterday, in fact, about the sudden conspicuous absence of JAM on the streets in the capital. They’re just lying low until we’re gone, when they’ll come home and reemerge to reclaim power. It wasn’t hard to see it coming; even an idiot like me has been calling it for months.

It doesn’t matter why Mookie and his pals left or when they’re planning to return. What matters is making sure his Mahdi army gets seriously degraded, if not dismantled, during his absence. Might even make him think twice about returning.

And then there’s this novel concept called border security — admittedly, not the U.S. government’s strong suit, but what better place to learn how to do it right than the Iraq-Iran border? What if al Sadr can’t just come strolling back into Najaf whenever he feels like it?

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