I'm going to go out on a limb here. The LibertyBob Psychic Department is doing some "research" that some how involves beer, boats and bimbos, so I can't get them to confirm this. That means I have to make the guess on my own. Here it is: I think Muqtada al Sadr is severely injured or dead.
His followers claimed that he was injured and then they withdrew that statement, saying he was fine. The Iraqi government has made repeated attempts to make peace in Najef through al Sadr's representatives. Those representatives keep changing their stories as though they are making it up without a central leader. Most notable, al Sadr refuses to make comment personally, either on telephone, radio, or videotape. How dangerous could it be to show up on videotape?
All of these things make me think that he, in the very least, is not in control in Najef. Since he isn't rabble rousing somewhere else, I think he is in Najef but is incapacitated. That can be a good or bad thing. It is a good thing if his own presence maintains the integrity of his organization. Some groups collapse when their leader is removed.
Unfortunately, his followers are not likely to just stop fighting. They may become less organized but they will still exist. There are plenty of other little, violent groups waiting to take them in. I prefer for Muqtada to make peace with the Iraqi Council as an example of proper behavior. Instead, he risks becoming a martyr, his likely goal. It's too bad if he reaches it.
Anyway, that's my guess. It's just a hunch and I have no hard evidence to prove anything. I do not present it as fact. Take from it what you will.
On the subject of Najef, I know we want to stop the bad guys without damaging the holy buildings. Wouldn't gas do that? It wouldn't even have to be lethal gas, just something to make it really uncomfortable there until the bad guys leave. Enough of the right gas and you can go through afterward and collect them where they lie in their own vomit. A little CS gas could herd them into a less holy part of the city. There would be a snot trail, but who cares? It's just a thought.
You gotta pick the right guy to do the job.
Go out now and vote for LibertyBob.