On Wednesday, the cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, having succeeded for seven years in evading assassination or capture by US forces and spending much of that time in Iran, returned to Iraq. He did so as the leader of a significant faction in Iraqi politics --- its 40 seats in Parliament are second amongst Shi'a parties, surpassed only by the supporters of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki --- and on the Iraqi streets.
US forces may have tried to remove Sadr from the Iraqi scene, but the politics is now far beyond them, as the cleric tries to build on his position.
Next step? A "very important" speech in Najaf on Saturday.