Despite its elected government, Iraq is actually run by a small handful of movers and shakers. These include the two Kurdish leaders, Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani. Then on the Shiite side you have al-Hakim and Da'wa Party leader Nuri al-Maliki. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and Sunni Arab vice president Tariq al-Hashimi are on the margins of the top Shiite/Kurdish club.
So of the central club, al-Hakim is now absent. And, Jalal Talabani is flying to the US to spend three weeks, allegedly in a bid to lose weight. I'm tempted to speculate that something is in the works such that someone thinks it desirable that Talabani be out of country, since the idea that Mam Jalal suddenly decided he needed to go to a fat farm in Minnesota strikes me as far-fetched. But I will control myself; speculation in the absence of information is not very useful.
If Juan Cole is unwilling to speculate, than certainly neither can I. But it's...interesting.