BAGHDAD, Iraq - To Col. Al Kelly, whose brigade patrols dangerous Shiite
neighborhoods on the north side of Baghdad, Donald H. Rumsfeld did the best he
could, made tough decisions and "now he's paying for it."
"He made hard decisions no one else would make," said Kelly, 45, of Weldon,
N.C., after President Bush announced that he was replacing Rumseld as Pentagon
chief with former CIA director Robert Gates.
troops have complained Rumsfeld sought to control Iraq with too few troops, many
Iraqis say the US-led forces failed to offer day-to-day protection against
insurgent and militia attacks.
Iraqi soldiers guards detainees in
Baqouba, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday,
November 8, 2006. Iraqi military killed three suspected militants and
detained 13 others in a raid. [AP]
Some expected Rumsfeld's resignation and the Democrats' gains in Congress to
improve security and spur an earlier withdrawal of US troops. Others expected
little to change.
"I expect a major change in military commands in Iraq," said Hassan
al-Sunnaid, a member of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa party. "We have to
wait and see the strategy of the new secretary (Gates) and how we will deal with
him. We hope he will be more effective and more serious in achieving security in
"The Bush administration including Rumsfeld was able to topple Saddam
Hussein's regime but it did not succeed in administering Iraq," al-Sunnaid said.
"Defense officials, on top of them Rumsfeld, failed and so did the American
ambassador. Changing Rumsfeld should have happened a year ago because their work
in Iraq did not achieve any results."
Hassan Rhadi, a Shiite and one of several ministers of state without
portfolio in the al-Maliki Cabinet, said a new defense secretary "would only
mean a change in tactics, but not in strategy. We will not judge the successor
until see what he will do in Iraq."
As the House of Representatives returned to Democratic control and the Senate
hung in the balance, Iraqis took note of the results, which came on a day when
at least 66 more people were killed in vicious sectarian attacks.
A Shiite woman, who identified herself as Um Assad, mother of Assad, probably
spoke for most Iraqis when questioned about the election as she shopped near the
National Museum. Security was uppermost in nearly everyone's mind.
"We hope that they (the Democrats) will be kind to our people and understand
our problems," she said.