Fri, Nov 10, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Defense chief's departure cheers critics worldwide

AP , TOKYO

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's departure has cheered critics around the world who saw him as a symbol of a failed war in Iraq, while supporters of the military mission pledged to work closely with his successor.

"The US has to get out," declared Chandra Muzaffar, president of the International Movement for a Just World think tank in Malaysia. "The occupation will have to end. There is no other way."

Rumsfeld resigned on Wednesday after Democrats won a narrow majority in the Senate and regained total control of Congress, dealing a powerful blow to the government of Republican US President George W. Bush.

Rumsfeld was both reviled and grudgingly respected around the world for his stance on Iraq and support for controversial Bush administration policies like the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

On the streets of Baghdad, critics blamed Rumsfeld for mounting bloodshed in Iraq and crimes they said were committed by American troops.

"Rumsfeld's resignation is not enough," said Osama Ahmed, 50, an Iraqi Higher Education Ministry employee. "He should be put under investigation for his responsibility in the ... killings and rapes carried out by US soldiers against Iraqi citizens."

Reaction was triumphant in other parts of the Middle East. In Lebanon, the English-language Daily Star newspaper called Rumsfeld "a casualty of the war he launched in Iraq." The Syrian state-run Tishreen newspaper said he was "the first of the drowning hawks."

Turkey, a US ally that neighbors Iraq and rejected a US request to participate in its invasion, greeted Rumsfeld's resignation with hope that it would bring about a change of strategy in the conflict across the border.

The Zaman newspaper branded Rumsfeld the "chief architect of the war and chaos in Iraq," while the Islamic-leaning daily Yeni Safak called the recent US elections "a democratic coup against Cowboy Bush."

Jordanian lawmaker Mahmoud al-Kharabsheh, head of the legal committee in the Lower House of Parliament, called for Rumsfeld and other Bush lieutenants to be "be put on trial as criminals of war."

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was giddy as he read aloud a report of Rumsfeld's resignation.

"Heads are beginning to roll," Chavez said during a news conference on Wednesday. "It was about time he resigned. The president should resign now."

US allies, meanwhile, pledged to work closely with Bush's chosen replacement for Rumsfeld, Robert Gates, a former CIA director.

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