The good doctor presents a compelling case. Read it all if you haven’t already. It makes sense, too, that the surge would start with AQ, the one player in the country whom neither side has much use for. If we take out al-Masri, it’ll give us a little goodwill to spend on going after the sect leaders. Not that we’re waiting.

Meanwhile, the LA Times has the latest on the growing unhappiness with Ahmadinejad in Iran. Money grafs:

Analysts here say it is significant that Khamenei, who has been a strong supporter of the nuclear program, has not silenced Ahmadinejad’s critics.

Indeed, Jamhouri Eslami, a newspaper once owned by Khamenei that often reflects his views, has voiced its own criticism of the president.

“Turning the nuclear issue into a propaganda slogan gives the impression that you, for the sake of covering up flaws in the government, are exaggerating its importance. This is harmful for you and your government,” the paper said in an editorial last month.

It remains unknown whether Khamenei will try to rein in public dissent.

Obviously Khamenei would want to distance himself if Ahmadinejad really is that unpopular. But how about this theory — that by allowing criticism of Ahmadinejad, Khamenei’s trying to make the regime look weak in order to discourage an attack on the country for the reasons I explained here? Too clever by half? Maybe, but not even western intel seems to know what’s going on in Iran. Why should I?

I’ll say this for Khamenei. For a guy who’s supposedly uncomfortable with “Mahdi’s” bellicosity, he sure does sound a lot like him.