Okay, tell me what’s wrong here: Imagine a journalist, a German journalist, someone who has just spent the past two years training others how to become journalists in an area that what was up until very recently one of the most war-torn areas in the world. A civil war just ended there a few years ago, but the journalist in question happily reports about how this area has become a “refuge of stability” and that it is “peaceful, democratic and practically secular, for this part of the world.”

Foreigners don’t have to live in an isolated compound here and ride around in armed vehicles or constantly be protected by small armies of armed guards. Citizens aren’t terrorized by daily bombings or military counter-operations. Exiled countrymen are actually returning to the country in large numbers, not fleeing for their lives – and they are returning with their entire families (many of them never having seen their parents’ “homeland” before) and with the money and know-how they acquired in Europe, Canada and the USA.

Building projects are sprouting up everywhere and remind the journalist of a country that is hastily preparing to host the next Olympic Games. Billboards announce soon-to-be opened futuristic shopping malls and 1200 home “Dreamcity” housing development projects. Vestiges of the old despotic regime have been cleared away; a notorious torture prison has been turned into a popular public park, for instance. Churches of many denominations coexist openly and peacefully side by side, students enjoy a freedom that was unimaginable here just a few years ago, and there is also a definite international touch to the cities; languages from all over the world are heard here on the street, German among them.

So what’s wrong with this picture? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it: This, too, is also Iraq. It is Kurdistan in northern Iraq, to be more exact, but “The Kurdistan Region of the Republic of Iraq”, all the same.

And this doesn’t jive with your Weltbild (view of the world), you say? Of course it doesn’t. How could it?

Serchaw! Welcome to Kurdistan!

Source: “Der Frieden im Krieg” by Susanne Fischer, Die Zeit Nr. 5, January 25, 2007.

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