Moqtada Al-Sadr Flees to Iran
An Iraqi government official confirms the report by the U.S. military that Moqtada al-Sadr has fled to Iran; Sadr's people have been denying it, but they haven't produced evidence Sadr is still in Iraq. The Guardian reports that the Mahdi army command structure has gone there too. Evidently, Sadr wanted to get out of town before the surge began. As Ralph Peters points out in this acerbic column, "Mookie" can and should be depicted as a coward and an Iranian stooge--and his flight should be taken as evidence that the surge is having some positive effect.
Here's some additional evidence that it is.
George W. Bush delivered a speech on Afghanistan at an American Enterprise Institute event this morning; I was fortunate to be seated in the front row. He sounded forceful and unfazed by the opposition he's getting from the Democratic Congress. He noted that the Taliban forces there went on the offensive in 2006 and can be expected to do so again when the snows melt. He called for increasing the number of Afghan national police and more than doubling the size of the Afghan army. He noted that many NATO countries will send in additional troops and said "allies must lift restrictions on the forces they do provide so NATO commanders have the flexibility they need to defeat the enemy wherever the enemy may make a stand." He didn't say he was sending in more American troops, but it does sound like there will be something in the nature of a surge.
By Michael Barone