Living in the Mideast - Part 19

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					Living in the Mideast - Part 19 One of the most enjoyable times for me in Iraq was when
I spent about a year and a half in Northern Iraq in Kurdish country. In the winter, the
nearby mountains are snow-capped and very beautiful to behold. There are several
groups of mountain peaks but the ones I refer to are in the Ararat Mountain Range over
on the Turkey side of the border. These mountains are majestic and a pleasure to observe
year-round. The terrain is a lot different than the majority of Iraq which is flat and just
plain desert down in the Southern part. The weather was starting to warm up when I first
arrived there a couple years ago. I got to climb up in the lower mountains and hills on the
Iraq side and visit some waterfalls there. I also got to venture into the town for shopping
and going to restaurants off base. As far as I know, this is one of the only places in Iraq
where it is reasonably safe to do what I did. Now, I did have to take some security with
me and we traveled in groups. It wouldn't be a good idea to go anywhere alone even in
friendly territory. Another factor is language. Up there, people speak Kurdish and it is
advisable to have an interpreter along as well. Arabic is another language they know
there as it is the religious language at the mosque. Some do speak a little English but
most know nothing of what you're saying. You can pay in Iraqi Dinars, US dollars or
Turkish currency here. Buying at the market is no problems. The children follow us
Americans around when we are downtown. Somehow, they all think we have money or
treats to give out. Everyday, the temperature goes up over 120f which is approx 48.89c
even in Northern Iraq. In the winter, it can get cold enough to snow and I saw this a few
times. That snow would then stay on the tops of the mountains even though it had long
since melted on the ground. But in the spring, the flowers were all in bloom and there
were some fruit trees in some nearby orchards. The flowers and grasses came in
following the end of the rainy season. At that time, it hadn't rained for nearly 2 months.
Further south, as you get near the desert, it hardly ever rains. This is just another reason
this area is unique to Iraq. I'm safe on a base and my work involves tracking convoys and
materials as well as report writing. During my free time, I get to use the computer and
enjoy writing. When I'm working, I get to talk to actual convoy commanders and drivers
from many countries. A lot of people are here in Iraq to get the job done. Some come as
far away as the Fiji Islands and Philipeans to drive trucks for the convoys. Naturally there
are mostly local Kurd and Turkish drivers up at this end of the country. I feel fortunate
that I've been able to experience a lot of the things that go on here. I don't usually talk
about politics as there is a great deal of differing opinions. Remember, anything I say
here is only my opinion based on some facts that I have analyzed. I believe it is a noble
thing what we are doing to promote democracy here. It just is costing way too much and
too much sacrifices. Probably we should get out soon and let the people decide what they
want. Unfortunately, they don't know what they want. It is sad. We could stay here 10
more years and they would not be any farther ahead. Reconstruction won't happen unless
the people here realize what we are offering them in the name of freedom. They are no
Sumerians unfortunately. Remnants of that great race are long gone from these parts. I
believe the only short term solution would be three separate countries. The Kurds would
be happy with their portion and do just fine. The Shiites would be happy with a Religious
Theocracy much like Iran but Arab and not Persian. The Sunni third would never be
happy without control of the whole of Iraq and its oil. Now, we are between a rock and a
hard place! Hopefully something good could come out of this place. I know it is
beginning to show as possitive atleast in Northern Iraq amongst the Kurdish people. John
Sprague is an American currently working in the mideast. He enjoys writing and working
on his websites in his free time. He has a site at His
website has photos of the mideast and marketing articles as well as website analyzing

Marijan Stefanovic Marijan Stefanovic Digital Imagery
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