Iraqis Soldiers Told, “We Beat the Americans.”
After Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki’s declaration of victory over the Americans, the average Iraqi soldier is becoming bolder and brazen when dealing with us on a day to day basis. Their attitude is changing and it’s being driven by the younger Lieutenants and Captains. Pushed by orders and driven by the promises of jail if they don’t comply, the newest and youngest Iraqi soldiers that were only 12 or 13 when the war started are being told by their Lieutenants they don’t need to listen to Americans anymore because they won. And why wouldn’t they believe it? Look at how PM Maliki boasted about June 30th.
Because of this change of attitude, I no longer feel as safe as I did in the past. I ask myself, “What is to stop an unhappy Iraqi soldier from killing me?”
This evening, as I walked across the parking lot to the Iraqi side of the base, I reached down and made sure I had a round chambered in my pistol. I think back to the four Iraqi soldiers that were killed this past week. It was done by teenagers that were talked into murder by sectarian ideals and promises of glory. The Iraqi soldiers that guard the buildings are just as young and just as impressionable.
As I enter the building, the guard stops me and reaches for my pistol. He is young. He is 19 or 20 at the most. I grab his hand and stop him. In my head I think, “Touch my pistol and I’ll break your hand.” The audacity of this kid quickly gets under my skin. My thoughts turn to taking this kid down and the steps it would take to do it. It would be easy and fast. The guards are undisciplined, don’t know how to defend themselves and it could probably be done without firing a shot.
My fantasy is interrupted by his broken English. “No. No pistol.” I have been in this office thousands of times and have never encountered this before.
I look him in the eye, put a smile on my face and tell say, “Mashi, Mashi. (Okay, Okay)” and push past him. In English or Arabic, the look on his face said it all. “I can’t believe he isn’t stopping! What do I do now?” He does nothing.
I find the Colonel that I am going to do business with and let him know about the guard. He declares, “You are my Habibi (dear friend), you can come in here with a fucking tank if you want.”
The Colonel has a Lieutenant go out and correct the soldiers actions, however, this behavior is becoming more prominent as we get closer to the final redeployment date for the United States. I hope, for the sake of the United States, that it only gets as far as an Iraqi soldier saying no to an American entering a building with a pistol.