A correction on an “earlier post”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000753.php. The “Gen. Salah” taking over the FPA is now being reported as Maj. Gen. Jassim Mohammed Saleh, a former Republican Guard and commander of Saddam’s infantry. He arrived in Fallujah today wearing his old uniform to the cheers of bystanders.
Maj. Gen. Jassim Mohammed Saleh attends the Friday midday prayer at al-Rawda al-Mohammedieh mosque in Falluja on Friday. (AFP)“We have now begun forming a new emergency military force,” he told Reuters, saying people in Falluja “rejected” US troops.
Somewhat alarmingly, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, a U.S. military spokesman, offered no details about Saleh’s background but said the Marines had screened the former general and had full confidence in him. Officials of the U.S.-led coalition also said they had not information on Salah’s history. But details emerged from other media outlets.
He’s a former Ba’athist, but all members of the Army were required to be in the party. He was a former chief-of-staff for a Republican Guard brigade in the late 1980s and later commanded the 38th Infantry Division. The _Seattle Post-Intelligencer_ says he was then promoted to head all of the Iraqi army’s infantry forces.
His last posting was as a division commander in the al-Quds (Jerusalem) army, which was initially founded to liberate Jerusalem but grew into a vast paramilitary force. He spent the last year assigned to a military base in Ramadi, just west of Fallujah.
Saleh is a Fallujah native and belongs to the Mohammadi tribe, the town’s largest, and is a close relative of the tribe’s leader. Fallujah natives reached in neighboring Jordan confirmed Saleh is a well-known figure in the clan, according to the _P-I_.
He was apparently well-liked by his men, but never rose in the Ba’ath Party ranks and never was seen as very political.
Still, some Marines aren’t happy about the pullback and the transfer of command to Saleh, who will still report to American military authorities.
“It’s a mistake. People have lost lives in Falluja and now they die for nothing. But we have to give the Iraqis the chance to prove they can do it by themselves and we can still go back if it doesn’t work,” said Corporal Clint Burfort from Iowa.
Also, at least one member of the Governing Council was displeased:
Mahmoud Othman, a Kurd on the US-appointed Governing Council, said it was worthwhile to end fighting. But he added: “It’s not a good precedent … As usual, the Americans, without consulting anyone at all, have gone ahead with a policy to replace an earlier, failed policy … I’m not crazy about coming back to make a deal with someone from the Republican Guard.”
Neither are a lot of people, but it if ends the killing in Fallujah, then it should be considered. I just hope they thoroughly vetted this guy.