Corridors of Power

Corridors of Power is written by veteran foreign affairs correspondent Roland Flamini and appears in World Politics Review every week by Sunday morning. Click here for the Corridors of Power archives.

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS MOQTADA AL-SADR? -- The cleric is not in Tehran, but in Kufa, southern Iraq, according to a Western source. Stories that he has fled across the border are incorrect, according to Albrecht Gero Muth, a former adviser to Kofi Annan when the latter was U.N. Secretary General, who remains in contact with al-Sadr.

Presumably, the rumors are designed to focus on al-Sadr's link with Iran, and at the same time undermine the loyalty of the Mahdi army, which al-Sadr controls. The cleric is not often seen in public at the best of times, and has decided to keep an even lower profile while the new U.S. strategy is taking shape. How the Mahdi army reacts to the new U.S.-Iraqi push into hitherto no-go territory is clearly a crucial factor. So far, the American military has identified Mahdi militants with whom it has clashed as "rogue" elements, thereby implying that they were acting without Moqtada al-Sadr's orders.

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