That’s the word from the man in charge. It’s news to me, at least, and it looks like it’s news to Jim Geraghty too. Duncan Hunter didn’t follow up on the question and I’m unaware of anyone else who did, which is curious given how stark some of Petraeus’s comments about Iran were. The money passage:


I don’t know why Iran would have suddenly pulled out unless they’re getting nervous about the escalation with the United States. But if that were true, they’d cut the supply of weapons and EFPs too, and that obviously ain’t happening. Just something to think about. Meanwhile, I tacked on a few minutes at the end here of Petraeus talking about the task of having to negotiate with the Mahdi Army. It’s interesting on its own terms, as an insight into the psychological process of trying to reconcile with people you hate, but it also calls up something I’ve written about before which longtime HA readers may remember. According to Bill Roggio, the U.S. has been playing a game for awhile now where it targets the hardest of hardcore Sadrists for termination while emphasizing that those hardliners aren’t being true to Sadr’s own wishes. They’re “rogue,” in other words — or so we claim. Whether it’s true or not is a separate question. The idea is to distinguish the “legitimate” Mahdi Army from these irreconcilable loose cannons who need to be terminated so that less recalcitrant JAM commanders can negotiate with the United States (currently or in the future) without feeling that they’re losing face by talking to someone who’s targeting them. You’ll see a bit of that here in Petraeus’s answer. Again, no one pressed him on it.