Iraq's ambassador to the United States says he expects a compromise resolution to a political impasse that has prevented Iraqi leaders from moving ahead with the country's new government. Meanwhile, debate continues in Washington over calls by six retired U.S. generals for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign because of his direction of the war in Iraq.
Iraq's new ambassador to the United States, Samir Sumaidaie, told CNN's "Late Edition" he is optimistic a political solution in Iraq is imminent. "First, there is total consensus that whatever government emerges will be a national unity government. By definition this means that's a government that everybody has a stakes a stake in, everybody supports. In this process, it's complicated, of course, and there's a lot at stake. As we talk now, people I know are huddled together to put the final touches on a compromise that is emerging," he said.
The Iraqi envoy said the compromise is likely to involve someone other than interim Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Following the results of national elections in December, the Shi'ites, who hold the largest political block, nominated Prime Minister al-Jaafari to continue in that position. But the Sunnis and Kurds oppose his candidacy because they say he has not been strong enough against Iraq's insurgency.
The Iraqi ambassador blamed the insurgency for exacting a heavy toll on the country, in answer to critics who say the political delays have created a vacuum that is leading to chaos in Iraq. "There's far too much blood that's been flowing and continues to flow. Iraq is bleeding as a country, but we are bleeding mainly through the blows dealt by the terrorists, not by people who are trying to solve the Iraqi political process," he said.
In another Iraq war-related development, American politicians are publicly debating calls by six retired U.S. military generals for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign.
Bill Richardson, the Democratic governor of the southwestern U.S. state of New Mexico, told the CBS television program "Face the Nation" he supports calls for Rumsfeld's resignation. "My view is that the secretary should step aside. Besides the fact that the Iraqi war has been mismanaged, that a lot of brave American men and women, over 23-hundred, have perished. We should listen to what these generals are saying," he said.
Three of the six generals had commanded troops in Iraq under Rumsfeld, which the New Mexico governor said gives them direct knowledge of the decision-making process. "They basically are saying that Secretary Rumsfeld, on issues relating to military strategy, true military policy, supplies for the troops, number of troops, rules of engagement, didn't listen to them, that he did it, military policy, on his own," he said.
President Bush has repeated his support for the embattled Defense secretary, saying Rumsfeld's energetic and steady leadership is what is needed at this critical period.
Republican Senator George Allen acknowledged that the war has been tougher than originally predicted. But he added that he doesn't think getting rid of Rumsfeld will solve the problems the U.S. military faces in Iraq. "In the event that you switch the secretary of defense," he said, "what difference would that make? Would that mean anything to the terrorists? Would that mean anything in so far as the training of Iraqis, so that as they stand up, we can stand down and have our troops come home?"
Allen said he thinks singling out one person for blame is distracting from what he considers to be more constructive efforts. "So, a lot of this focus on an individual is a way of maybe criticizing the president, but it would be more useful, I think, if we looked at ways to find benchmarks of progress that could be communicated to the American people, rather than fixating on a personality," he said.
Meanwhile, as political wrangling continues in Iraq, the country's long-awaited legislative session planned for Monday has been postponed.
At the same time ongoing violence there claims more lives. A car bomb killed several people in Mahmoudiyah, a town south of Baghdad. Other incidents were reported in Baghdad, Mosul and Yusifiyah.