Friday, March 14, 2003



Arrived late last night in Sulimaniyah in the rain. From what I’ve seen so far, it looks like a far more agreeable place than Arbil. The hotel is modern, spacious and – best of all – clean. Whereas the endless khaki coloured buildings and scrubland gave Arbil a drab feel, Suly has parkland and trees and is ringed by snow-capped mountains.

My main concern at the moment is Assad, my former KDP Peshmerga driver. He drives like a maniac and can’t see further than 10 yards in front of his face. More worrying still is the fact that he’s packing two weapons – a Kalishnikov and a pistol. When he’s inside his own territory, controlled by the KDP army, this is no bad thing. However, we’ve now crossed into an area controlled by the rival PUK. If we get stopped at a checkpoint and the guards find someone from a rival army with a machine gun in the trunk they’re likely to be more than a little pissed off. Such is the way of the tribal politics here. Assad may have to go.

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