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Thoughts on the Spanish troop pullout...

...from Spanish soldiers and from Iraqis.

First, this:

The official line from officers at the Spanish base in Diwaniyah was that they were simply carrying out orders coming from Madrid and that they were in no position to express any emotion or opinion on the matter.

But ordinary soldiers said the overwhelming majority of their comrades opposed Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's sudden decision to bring home the 1,432-strong contingent based here and in the nearby Shiite Muslim holy city of Najaf.


Some of the same sentiments were echoed on the streets of Najaf, where Sadr has been holed up for the past two weeks despite the presence of Spanish troops.


"I feel satisfied with the five months I spent here. For me it was a great professional experience and I would do it again," said Captain Jose Miguel Garces, who is scheduled to leave Iraq in one week.


But privately some said the "honour of the Spanish army" might have been tarnished by the sudden withdrawal, especially in the light of recent attacks by Sadr's Mehdi Army militia.


Three soldiers manning the checkpoint at the entrance of the base were laughing with an Iraqi labourer who spoke to them in broken Spanish.

"I will miss these guys very much, I have gotten used to them," he said.

...and from one of my favorite Iraqi bloggers:
The hardest thing is that I have to fight more, and I will, but God, please give me the strength. Why should I be strong while watching others run away; Spain, Honduras, Thailand, human organizations, the UN and all the others who want (and it's their right I must say) to avoid the dangers. But why did they disappoint us? Why abandon us in this moment when we really need them? Will they come back when conditions improve? Most likely, but who will need them then!!? We don't need doctors and engineers. We have enough of those and large numbers of Iraqi doctor, teachers and engineers are working abroad. We do export minds, and some of those have returned and are doing their job and some are on their way back. We need political, financial and military support, and once we get rid of the terrorists, WE will show you what we can do, and we will not forget those who helped us, they will remain as friends and allies, that's from a political point of view. As for me, they will remain as my real family, my brothers and sisters.


Others ask me to demonstrate and show my support to the coalition. Ok I'm with the coalition but I can't do it my friends. I'm surrounded by armed criminals who wouldn't hesitate for a minute before shooting me for just speaking out, yet I do speak, and not only on this page.

You, there in the free world, cannot witness against criminals without witness protection programs. We have nothing of this. Just under trained and half corrupted policemen and few newly graduated army soldiers and the law system, we inherited from Saddam and haven't really changed it yet, is far from being efficient. Why do others get discouraged easily? Don't mistake me. I'm upset but will NEVER run away like some people did.

I wasn't like this before. I was afraid most of the time. I have always looked for safety above all. I lost faith in the whole world and I wasn't ready at all to make the slightest sacrifice for the sake of others. I was trying to leave my country and find a better job in a safe place, BUT, The brave solders (who don't hold shares at Halliburton or Bechtel) who crossed seas and oceans and came to my country to fight for our freedom -and don't anyone dare say the opposite, as I met so many of these soldiers and had hundreds of letters from them and there families and I know their motives; they fight for their country's safety and for our freedom and they are proud of what they are doing- gave me the faith and showed me that man should not care only about himself, his family or his country, these are not enough to make a human being. These guys are MUCH better than me because I have to fight for my issue and they fight for me. They deserve the respect of the world and so do the people who support them. They always give me hope to go on no matter how difficult it seems.