Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Muqtada al-Sadr and several leaders of his movement as well as commanders of his Mahdi Army are present in the southern marshlands of Iraq, a place in which dissidents in the former Baath regime used to hide out. The marshes have been re-flooded and are at 40% of their original area, and they do give good protection to anyone wishing to hide out. The Marsh Arab inhabitants of the swamps have largely become followers of Sadr, and so would protect him. They are in an area of Iraq that borders Iran and which serves as a smuggling route between the two countries, which may have given rise to the idea that Muqtada was on his way to Iran. He more likely is holed up in the marshes. This is the most plausible story I have seen yet on Muqtada's disappearance.I noted a news report last night that Sunni's are beginning to scream bloody murder that the Shiites are manipulating the U.S. to ethnically cleanse Sunni's:
Jalal Talabani's account that Muqtada ordered his aides to Iran makes no sense at all given Muqtada's longstanding problem with Iran's authority in Shiism and his and his father's position that Iraqis should stay in Iraq even if they are in danger.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat writes in Arabic that Adnan Dulaimi, a leader of the (Sunni religious) Iraqi Accord Front, warned the government with severity not to target Sunnis alone in its security sweep.I wonder if the Sunni's will take the cue and begin to lay low as well. Afterall, residents of Baghdad have all the time in the world to wait. Perhaps a period of relative quiet will give Bush his excuse to declare victory and pull out while everyone plays nice for awhile? Then when we leave, the sectarian war can continue? However the Sunni's, as a distinct minority, may see it in their best interest to keep the U.S. around as a counter to the overwhelming Shiite majority and thus keep up bombing attacks in Shiite neighborhoods? Who knows but I guess we'll find out.
I'm a very lucky person with every allergy known to man but still happy to be enjoying a wonderful life living in the best place in the world!