Iraqis pleased Rumsfeld quits

Politicians reached by news agency AFP were unanimous in their pleasure at seeing the controversial American politician, one of the architects of the US-led invasion of Iraq, move on.

“The resignation came late,” said venerable Shiite politician Mahmud Othman. “He should have made it right after the scandal of Abu Ghraib in the spring of 2004.

“He should have been held responsible back then because he was the number one man in charge of Iraq, and it might have been better if he’d handed in his resignation earlier,” he added.

For nationalist Sunni Arab politician Saleh al-Mutlak, a vocal opponent of the US-led invasion, the resignation represents an “awakening of the American conscious”.

“Everything that Rumsfeld and his rule did in Iraq was against ethics and against humanitarian attitudes, and it does not reflect the policies of a civilized country like the United States,” he said.

Mr Mutlak laid much of the chaos currently engulfing Iraq at the feet of Mr Rumsfeld and his decision to dissolve the old Iraqi army, leaving the country open to foreign intervention.

“American policy in Iraq is an extension of the mistakes made by Rumsfeld who let the militias flourish and the regional intervention spread,” he added.

“I would expect a new policy would come from this and also due to the results of the election.”

Not all politicians, however, expected a change in US policy, and instead saw Mr Rumsfeld as part of a much larger system.

“America’s Middle East strategy is on a grand level,” said Bassem Sharif, a member of the Shiite Fadhila Party, part of the dominant Shiite coalition. “It is rarely affected by changing people, whether on a ministerial level or even by a change in president.”

Independent Shiite lawmaker Sami al-Askari acknowledged that “Rumsfeld was the leader of the hawks and holds a lot of responsibility for the (mid-term elections) setbacks of the Republicans,” but he doubted this represented a major turning point for US policy.