Breaking hard on Fox and CNN as I write this. CNN says Sadr’s people are denying it. 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.
I’ll post a link once it’s up. In the meantime, crack Bush-hating news commentator Jack Cafferty wondered a few minutes ago on CNN how Sadr could have slipped out of Baghdad with so many American soldiers around as part of the surge. Answer: Because he wasn’t there. He lives in Najaf, not Baghdad, jerky.
Update: A little more from the AP:
Al-Sadr left his Baghdad stronghold some weeks ago, the official said, and is believed to be in Tehran, where he has family. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. monitoring activities, said fractures in al-Sadr’s political and militia operations may be part of the reason for his departure. The move is not believed to be permanent, the official said.