Media e Verdade

Iraqis cheer Rumsfeld departure

By SAMEER N. YACOUB, Associated Press WriterThu Nov 9, 6:33 AM ET

Iraqis on Thursday cheered the resignation of U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, blaming him for policy failures and scandals they say helped spawn the daily sectarian carnage wracking their nation.

"Rumsfeld's resignation shows the scale of the mess the U.S. has made in Iraq," said Ibrahim Ali, 44, who works at the Oil Ministry. "The efforts by American politicians to hide their failure are no longer working."

Iraq's government has yet to comment on Rumsfeld's resignation, announced Wednesday after the Democratic Party won a sweeping victory in midterm elections in which voter discontent over the war in Iraq played a major role.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has in recent weeks grown increasingly critical of U.S. policies and pushed for his government to assume more responsibility for security from U.S.-led coalition forces.

Many in Baghdad said they expect changes in the U.S. approach under Rumsfeld's expected replacement, former CIA director Robert Gates.

"I think that there will a shift in the U.S. policy in Iraq after his resignation," said Osama Ahmed, 50, a civil servant.

What changes could be in store aren't yet clear, although ideas for a new strategy are being studied by an independent U.S. commission led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana. The White House says it is opposed to two prominent options — the partitioning of Iraq or a phased withdrawal of troops.

Whatever suggestions are put forward, however, Iraqis said Rumsfeld's departure was a positive move.

"Rumsfeld's resignation is a good step because he failed to keep security in Iraq," said Saad Jawad, 45, a former army officer who also works at the Oil Ministry.

Many Iraqis blamed Rumsfeld for spurring the emergence of Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias by disbanding the former Iraqi army following the April 2003 toppling of the former government of Saddam Hussein.

Although that order was actually issued by former top U.S. administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, such sentiments show how widely Rumsfeld is identified with failed policies in Iraq.

"I am happy with Rumsfeld's resignation because he played a major role in disbanding the former Iraqi army. He participated in building the new army on a sectarian basis," said Louai Abdel-Hussein, 48, a Shiite who owns a small grocery in Baghdad.

Ahmed, the civil servant, said Rumsfeld should also be held responsible for crimes by American forces in Iraq, particularly the abuse of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison that became known in 2004.

"Rumsfeld's resignation is not enough," Ahmed said. "He should be put under investigation for his responsibility in the crimes committed in Abu Ghraib and the killings and rapes carried out by U.S. soldiers against Iraqi citizens, he said.

Rumsfeld had twice previously offered his resignation to Bush — once during the Abu Ghraib scandal and again shortly after that. Both times the president refused to let him leave.

How Rumsfeld's Resignation Is Playing in Iraq
Dispatch: News of the Defense Secretary's departure had relatively little impact on most Iraqis. But they're looking to the Democrats' victory to help speed a withdrawal of U.S. troops

* Reaction: World Welcomes Change of Power

Posted Thursday, Nov. 09, 2006
If Rumsfeld was an ogre for the anti-war movement in the West, in Iraq he was never anything like a bogeyman. Only a few Western-educated politicians really understand the role of a U.S. Secretary of Defense, and what power it commands. Rumsfeld's persona — that dismissive arrogance that so infuriated his critics at home — was usually lost in translation on Arabic-language TV.

To most Iraqis, this is Bush's war, and Rumsfeld is just some guy who implemented the President's ideas. In three and a half years here, I have seldom heard Rumsfeld's name mentioned in conversations with Iraqis, whether politicians or ordinary folks. Even insurgent leaders rarely invoke his name: Rumsfeld is occasionally named in their statements and videos, but never in conversation. (Condi Rice, perhaps because she is a woman, comes up more often.) In a society long used to dictatorship, the notion that an American official other than President Bush can wield considerable power simply doesn't compute.

So while there's a certain amount of schadenfreude over his exit, the notion that Iraqis are celebrating the end of "the man responsible for Abu Ghraib" (as some Western media reports are suggesting) is vastly overstated.

There is more interest, however, in the results of the midterm elections. On Thursday, Iraqi TV stations extensively reported the Democrats' victories in the House and Senate, but scarcely mentioned Rumsfeld. Among Iraqis in the Green Zone — which is to say the political "sophisticates" — Rumsfeld's departure, taken together with the Democrats' capture of the House and Senate, can mean only one thing: a quicker withdrawal of U.S. troops.

"In America, they can use terms like 'changing course' and 'new strategy,' but in Iraq the only thing of interest is how long the American soldiers remain," says a Western diplomat in Baghdad. "The received wisdom here has been that if the Republicans lose, the withdrawal will be speeded up. (Rumsfeld's departure) only confirms that suspicion."

Whether a speedier withdrawal is a good thing or bad thing depends on whether you live in the Green Zone or in the Red Zone. In the Baghdad street, almost anybody you speak with wants the U.S. forces out — yesterday. Over and over again, opinion polls have shown that the majority of Iraqis, across the sectarian and ethnic categories, see the U.S. presence as a part of the problem rather than part of the solution. But Iraqi leaders take the more realistic view that the U.S. presence, although irksome, is necessary.

So a speedier withdrawal would be bad news for people in the Green Zone. Some see the Dems' victory and Rumsfeld's exit as the latest in a long line of bad omens, which include the creation of the Baker committee and the ever louder drumbeat of gotta-change-strategy rhetoric emanating from Washington in recent months. "There are changes coming (in America's Iraq strategy)," says Zuhair Humadi, a former general-secretary of the Iraqi cabinet of ministers. "Rumsfeld leaving is the first step."

The Iraqi government is making the usual polite noises about Rumsfeld's exit and the Democrats' victory being "an internal matter for the Bush administration." But it, too, is trying to put a positive gloss on this week's events. Bassam Ridah, an advisor to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, told TIME: "We're not going to make a big deal of (Rumsfeld's departure). We're going to hope that his replacement benefits us. We're hoping the change will mean better execution of the plan to train Iraqi security forces to take charge of the security situation."

Others are more blunt. "If the U.S. withdraws, Iran takes over - it is as simple as that," says Dr. Mehdi al-Hafed, a prominent MP from former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's secular block and one of Iraq's most respected politicians. "The Americans have to ask themselves if such an outcome is acceptable to them."

The U.S. military brass in Baghdad have not yet responded to requests for comment. But a senior European commander in the Coalition forces told TIME he didn't expect a sudden change in course. "Even if there is a change of strategy, it will probably take six months to execute," he said. " This is a very big machine, and it takes time to change."

The European commander contended that, rather than the Pentagon or the White House, the main driver of a change in military strategy will be the Democratic Congress, which will have control of the purse-strings. "At the end of the day, all strategy is based on the money available," he said. "And if the Congress slows the spending on Iraq, that would force us to change things on the ground."

Para regressar ao meu jornal clique aqui