Thursday, March 27, 2003

Thursday was a momentous day for us. After almost two months in the region, the Northern Front – albeit a scaled down version of what was originally intended -- is finally open for business. For the moment at least we’re the centre of the story.

We were woken by the News Desk at 0730 and for the next 8 hours we barely drew breath. The Rolling News Monster had us in its grip and wasn’t going to let us go. Each hour was filled with lives for World TV, News 24, World Service, Radio 4, Five Live, you name it, interspersed with the odd rushed phone call to find out what was actually happening.

By about 4 o’clock I was suffering from Non Stop News Narcosis and needed to get out for an hour. Our translator, Rebeen, took us to the bazaar to buy some army surplus souvenirs, heartless War Tourists that we are. I came away with a rather natty Iraqi Army beret – perfect for those “Dress as your favourite despot” theme parties. Cameraman Kaveh bought a balaclava, which makes him look like an ETA terrorist. Jim was not impressed.

The mood in the bazaar was, ahem, bizarre. Since dawn the TV had been filled with images of paratroops jumping out of planes into the Bashur airfield (they could have quite easily landed on the runway but that wouldn’t look as good on TV, would it?) but in the market it as though the war was in another, distant country. Traders were shouting their wares, fruit and veg was piled high on stalls and chickens condemned to death pondered their fate. The only evidence of the war was on the TVs tuned to Al Jazeera in the tea shops and kebab joints, but most people didn’t seem to be paying much attention to the screens. It seemed strange that people were going about their business, seemingly oblivious to the conflict on their doorstep but I actually think it’s rather healthy. While war rages in their midst , many ordinary Kurds are going about their daily lives, buying fruit and veg, baking bread, drinking tea.

Discuss Northern Iraq Weblog

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and having taken a look at Kevin Sites' weblog I saw he had a discussion option. I want one of those, I thought -- so here it is. Why didn't I know about this sooner?

Discuss Northern Iraq Weblog


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