Thursday, March 20, 2003

The tone was set on Tuesday for the days ahead with an afternoon of tail-chasing.

We read this report from the AFP news agency and got very excited:

The thought of tens of thousands of people fleeing Saddam seemed like a good story, so we jumped into the trucks and drove the 70km to Chamchamal. It turned out to be complete bollocks. People were trickling across from Kirkuk but in the dozens rather than tens of thousands. The story was shite, pure and simple, and checking it out took three hours we couldn’t afford to spare. Added to that, we used up a tank of fuel at a time when petrol shortages are looming. The cost of fuel has already quadrupled here over the last couple of days, while the value of the Iraqi Dinar has slumped, down from 9.5 dinars to the dollar on Saturday to 6 today.

The mood of people is best summed up in the vox pops I did this morning for BBC news Online with people in the bazaar. Click on the Northern Iraq section.

Here’s 26 year old Selar Osman Rashid’s take on what’s happening:

In a sign of things to come we got sucked into a round of lives for 5 Live, World Service and BBC World. All the equipment seems to be working a treat, though – which is more than can be said for ABC News’s satellite dish. The dish has been travelling the world for weeks, creeping its way towards Sulaymaniyah, across timezones and international borders. It finally got here yesterday but got caught in the night by a gust of wind which blew it off the roof! ABC’s engineers have spent the day putting it back together again with sticky tape and chewing gum and, amazingly, it seems to be working again. A miracle of engineering.


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