Sadr is not at all averse to cracking down on Al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents but he wants Iraqi control and the US out. He is probably wise to stay in Iran for the duration of the surge since there is little doubt he would be arrested by the US or even killed if he were in Baghdad.
It is not surprising but rather misguided to claim that the surge is a success because there has been relatively less violence except for some spectacular suicide bombings. The classic tactic of guerrilla warfare is to lay low when faced by superior force.
Sadr still supports Baghdad crackdown-aides
26 Feb 2007 09:00:24 GMT
More BAGHDAD, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Powerful Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has not withdrawn his support from a U.S.-backed crackdown in Baghdad, his aides said on Monday.
Salih al-Ugeyli, a spokesman for Sadr's political movement, said Sunday's strongly worded statement from the Shi'ite cleric was meant to encourage Iraqi forces to act independently from the U.S. military in the capital.
In the statement read out to a large crowd in Sadr's Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City, the cleric said the Baghdad security plan would not work because U.S. forces were involved.
"The media misinterpreted the statement because we are still fully behind the plan. It was meant as advice for our security forces who are capable of achieving more without American help," Ugeyli said.
A senior politician from Sadr's political movement echoed Ugeyli's comments.
"We have not withdrawn our support for the security plan. All we did was ask Iraqis to take more of a lead and we repeated our demands for a withdrawal of the occupation," said Falah Hasan Shanshal.
Sadr, an anti-American cleric, made his criticism hours after a female suicide bomber wearing a vest packed with explosives killed 40 in a student college.
The plan is regarded as a last attempt to halt all-out civil war in Iraq. Sadr led his Mehdi Army Shi'ite militia in two uprisings against U.S. forces in 2004.
Mehdi Army militiamen have so far avoided a confrontation with U.S. forces sweeping the capital.