While Nancy Pelosi and John Murtha prophesy that Bush's new policy in Iraq will be a dismal failure and seek to cut off funding for the troop surge, ABC pulls the rug out from under them with this report:
While members of the U.S. House of Representatives take turns weighing in on President Bush's planned troop surge in Iraq, the focus in Iraq is not on the arrival of more U.S. troops, but the departure of one of the country's most powerful men, Moqtada al Sadr and members of his army.
According to senior military officials al Sadr left Baghdad two to three weeks ago, and fled to Tehran, Iran, where he has family.
Al Sadr commands the Mahdi Army, one of the most formidable insurgent militias in Iraq, and his move coincides with the announced U.S. troop surge in Baghdad.
Sources believe al Sadr is worried about an increase of 20,000 U.S. troops in the Iraqi capital. One official told ABC News' Martha Raddatz, "He is scared he will get a JDAM [bomb] dropped on his house."
Sources say some of the Mahdi army leadership went with al Sadr.
In other words the chief trouble-maker in Baghdad has hightailed it to Iran, which, of course is being falsely accused by the Bush administration for supporting the insurgency.
Why did the Mookster get out of town? Obviously he wasn't buying the Democrats' rhetoric that the surge would do no good. Apparently his patron in the government, prime minister al-Maliki, had finally grown impatient with Mookie's antics and withdrew his protection. Consequently, the dentally challenged sheik, like his ancestors in Babylon four thousand years ago, read the hand-writing on the wall and decided to take his lieutenants and run.
The question now arises as to how effective he will be as an absentee jihadi. How much street cred has he lost among the rank and file for absconding and leaving them to face the American troops and their firepower alone. If, in fact, al Sadr, far removed from the action, has lost his influence among the faithful then Bush's plan scored at least one major success before it was even implemented.
Don't expect Keith Olberman or Chris Matthews to place much emphasis on the point, though. They're too busy trying to make a big deal out of pentagon sources backing off from earlier claims that the Iranian government must know about the supplies of Iranian weapons being smuggled into Iraq.RLC