When Moqtada al-Sadr left Iraq in 2007, many US officials hoped that his Sadrist movement – which had waged a bitter insurgency against American forces there since 2004 – would fade from prominence once the Iraqi government retook control of much of the country from the insurgency. His hurried departure from Iraq was prompted by a joint US-Iraq effort to confront his militia, the Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM), and to restore parts of Baghdad that they ran to Iraqi government control. Without even a formal announcement, Sadr fled to Iran to escape the crackdown, infuriating those among his supporters who wanted him to continue the resistance against U.S. forces and the Iraqi government.
His return to Iraqi politics last week has proved that his decision to go to Iran at the height of the US offensive was a tactical retreat but a strategic victory. Sadr used his time to bolster his religious
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