U.S.-Backed Mayor of Fallujah Resigns

Taha Bedawi (search), the U.S.-backed mayor of this volatile city west of Baghdad, resigned Thursday amid mounting criticism of his performance, the local U.S. military commander said.

Bedawi, who was named mayor shortly after American forces captured Fallujah (search) in April, announced his resignation at a meeting of tribal leaders at a U.S. military camp on the outskirts of the city, said Lt. Col. Brian Drinkwine of the 82nd Airborne Division (search).

He said Bedawi lost the confidence of tribal leaders.

"I spoke to him today and he agreed that it would be best for him to step down," Drinkwine said. "We were prepared to vote, but he stood up and announced that he was stepping down and would leave with his dignity."

A successor will be named in two or three weeks, he said.

Last month, angry Iraqis attacked Bedawi's office and set fire to parts of the one-story building and his car. It was the latest of several attacks on the mayor's office in the city of 200,000 people.

U.S. commanders who worked with Bedawi have said the mayor received death threats from Saddam Hussein loyalists and from rivals.

The commanders said the mayor flaunted his ties to the U.S. military, which did not go down well in the city, site of frequent attacks on American forces.

Thursday's meeting also included a discussion of the expansion of Fallujah's U.S.-backed city council to include Muslim clerics, professionals and leaders of secondary tribes. The council is now made up of leaders of the al-Boweissa tribe and affiliated clans.