Lieut.-Col. Ralph Peters, writing in the New York Post, has a most entertaining piece on the apparent flight of Muqtada al-Sadr to Iran. According to Col. Peters, he's not the only "bad-actor" who has taken flight. Apparently some of the supporting cast has gone with him.
It is looking more likely that the rebel mullah is indeed gone, an advisor to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is confirming the American reports.
Quite honestly, I don't get it, from Mr. al-Sadr's point of view. Even if his withdrawal to Iran is entirely tactical: to plead for more aid, or on other business, his enemies within and without the government will use Mr. al-Sadr's absconding to Iran to make him lose face. His rivals in his own organization (and a leader always has rivals) will do the same and take the opportunity to weaken his hold on his supporters. Even if he comes back, he's damaged -- and every day he doesn't the damage is worse.
Again, I don't get it. He has followers, the makings of an army, a political party, a name. . .He's a Contender for God's sake, in the Big Game, the only game worth playing, and he's running out on his troops and scuppering his cause. Yeah, the Americans probably want him dead or alive: but that's an occupational risk in the Rebel Leader line of work. The Americans won't be there for ever -- he could be a ruler, a Man of Power, and he's pissing it away. What a wimp ! Good for us, but Go Figure.