Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sadr In Iraq, Says Aide

Bloggers from the US right were beside themselves with ejacu-blogging glee last night. With timing that can only be described as a "cutsey", US officials told the world that Moqtada Sadr had fled Baghdad for the safety of Iran to avoid the security "surge" now underway in Iraq. Today, a debate in Congress about Iraq will continue and Republicans admit they will lose the vote if they stick to talking about the current situation. Many rightwing bloggers felt this was a new situation to talk about.

But all that rightwing glee may well have been yet another case of rightwing premature ejacu-blogging - Sadr may well still be in Iraq:
BAGHDAD, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- A senior aide to Iraq's Shiite political and militia leader Moqtada Sadr on Wednesday denied U.S. claims Sadr had fled to Iran fearing for his safety.

Nassar al-Rubaie told Kuwait's KUNA news agency in Baghdad reports Sadr had left two weeks ago in the face of a new military push to stabilize Baghdad.

"He is now inside Iraq and has left for nowhere," Rubaie said. "There is no need for an official statement or a press conference to make the denial."

Rubaie is the head of the Sadrist Parliamentary bloc and said there was no need for Sadr, who also heads the Mehdi militia, to flee.

"The security plan does not target us and we back it," he said. "We are now part of the political process."

One U.S. official told CNN recent raids parts of Baghdad had resulted in the arrests of some senior Sadr ministers -- one from the Ministry of Health, the other from the Ministry of Interior -- and Sadr feared he could be next.
Certainly, according to the Iraqi government, Sadr was in Iraq on Tuesday, when according to US officials he had already left for Iran.

It all comes down to the credibility gap which is now present whenever an anonymous US official says much of anything. Both John at AmericaBlog and Ron at MEJ were sceptical about whether the story "passed the smell test", Ron pointing out that Sadr often goes back and forward between Iraq and Iran anyway.

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