American Team In Iraq Is Being Shaken

*The American team in Iraq is being shaken up big time. Barbara Bodine, a long-time diplomat and Arabist, who has effectively been the US mayor of Baghdad for three weeks, is being sent back a desk job at State in Washington. Some reporters have speculated that Bodine was sacked by the incoming American pro-consul, Paul Bremer, because of events that had occurred in Yemen. Bodine had been ambassador there during the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, and when FBI investigator John O’Neill came in to Sanaa, she complained that he was heavy-handed and got him transfered back out. O’Neil’s supporters saw her as having interfered with the investigation. (Ironically, O’Neill was killed in the World Trade Center on September 11). Bremer is rumored to be one of those O’Neil supporters.

Although it is true that Bodine only had three weeks in Baghdad, under chaotic post-war conditions, it is also true that the place is a mess, with no regular armed police patrols and with entire sections of the city, such as the east Baghdad slums, relinquished to Shiite militias. This situation is probably more Rumsfeld’s fault than it is Bodine’s, but she is taking the fall.