Arbil for tourists: don’t rush
The old walled city is not really amazing but I did get to meet a few interesting characters.
Family anecdotes are rarely of wider interest, but an eyewitness report from a real live tourist in Iraqi Kurdistan is out of the ordinary. The laid-back Lonely Planet guidebooks, which give advice on trekking on Tajikistan, avoiding warlords, jihadists, and opium growers, are short on solo travel to Iraq:
You would have to be mad.
My imprudent son has done it, and his account on his pseudonymous travel blog is here.
The bottom line is that Arbil is an unsafe and lifeless dump by the standards of the places “Arabin” has spent the last six months in: of Urumqi, Osh, Khiva, and Batumi. Independently, we know Kurdistan has a unusual degree of political freedom, against which it is exceptionally corrupt. By itself, we would see it as just another of the flyblown Stans. It is only a beacon of order and civility by the crazed standards of the horror into which we – the USA and its British accomplice – have sunk the rest of Iraq.
Author: James Wimberley
James Wimberley (b. 1946, an Englishman raised in the Channel Islands. three adult children) is a former career international bureaucrat with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. His main achievements there were the Lisbon Convention on recognition of qualifications and the Kosovo law on school education. He retired in 2006 to a little white house in Andalucia, His first wife Patricia Morris died in 2009 after a long illness. He remarried in 2011. to the former Brazilian TV actress Lu MendonÃ§a. The cat overlords are now three.
I suppose I've been invited to join real scholars on the list because my skills, acquired in a decade of technical assistance work in eastern Europe, include being able to ask faux-naÃ¯f questions like the exotic Persians and Chinese of eighteenth-century philosophical fiction. So I'm quite comfortable in the role of country-cousin blogger with a European perspective. The other specialised skill I learnt was making toasts with a moral in the course of drunken Caucasian banquets. I'm open to expenses-paid offers to retell Noah the great Armenian and Columbus, the orange, and university reform in Georgia.
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