WHERE IS MUQTADA?….The Guardian reports today on the whereabouts of Muqtada al-Sadr and the Mahdi Army:
Senior commanders of the Mahdi army, the militia loyal to the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, have been spirited away to Iran to avoid being targeted in the new security push in Baghdad, a high-level Iraqi official told the Guardian yesterday.
….”The strategy is to lie low until the storm passes, and then let them return and fill the vacuum,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The Tehran authorities were “playing a waiting game” until the commanders could return to Baghdad and resume their activities. “All indications are that Moqtada is in Iran, but that is not really the point,” he added.
So Muqtada is in Iran after all? Not so fast:
The assertion was hotly contested by senior members of the Sadr movement, who said their leader had been in Najaf meeting local officials. One pro-Sadr satellite channel showed footage of Mr Sadr that it said was taken in Najaf three days ago. Falah al-Akaily, a pro-Sadr MP, said: “This is just a rumour sent around to confuse people. Sayid Moqtada is available and has not left Iraq. Why would he need to do so? The movement has declared its support for the security crackdown and its full cooperation in defeating the terrorists.”
Well, if Sayid Muqtada really is in Najaf, that ought to be pretty easy to prove. Your move, Muqtada.