An American correspondent emails me: "I don't need to read books to know how they (the Iraqis) live.....I suspect they lead a miserable existence. And, looking at photos of their life before 2003 they led a miserable existence then. All you have to do is look at their ramshackle houses and dirty streets to know that. And, they were hungry under Saddam...imagine they are hungry now."
To the contrary, Erbil, Iraq has lots of millionaires, rapid modernization and great beauty. The locals aspire to transform it into "the next Dubai or Istanbul." Click.
More photos from Google images.
Erbil has been named the 2013 Tourism Capital by the Arab Council of Tourism. By 2014, Erbil expects to have four million tourists.
Perhaps so, but they need to get a better PR person....the only photos I've seen is narrow streets, brown adobe type houses, dirty streets.......I have to draw my conclusion with what the press presents since I have not been there and have no desire to go.
They do need better PR, and recognize that they do. However, I doubt a big PR campaign will change the point of view of those who pays so little attention to Iraq news in particular or foreign news in general. They just don't want to hear about Iraq these days. That's probably because Americans feel rejected by the Iraqis, my correspondent contends.Ten years after the US invasion of Iraq, the country shows some positive economic news on which to build:
The American decision to invade Iraq in 2003 will be debated for decades. From afar, it still looks like a catastrophe, with frequent news of suicide bombings, sectarian strife, and undependable electricity. But if you visit the thriving oil-rich Iraq city of Irbil, you'd probably say the decision was a good one. An economic boom fueled by oil production is helping the northern Kurdish region to develop rapidly, making it prosperous as well as stable. Sympathy for America runs strong in the Kurdish region, the AP reports, on the 10th anniversary of the American invasion:
Rebaz Zedbagi, a partner in the Senk Group, a road construction and real estate investment company with an annual turnover of $100 million, said his success would have been unthinkable without the war. The 28-year-old said he won't do business in the rest of Iraq, citing bureaucracy and frequent attacks by insurgents, but said opportunities in the relatively stable Kurdish region are boundless.
"I believe Kurdistan is like a baby tiger," said Zedbagi, sipping a latte in a Western-style espresso bar in the Family Mall, Irbil's largest shopping center. "I believe it will be very powerful in the Middle East."
Iraq's overall economy is improving significantly. It is reliably and methodically producing oil again. In 2012, Iraq produced more oil than in any year since the first Gulf War. By some estimates, Iraq will soon overtake Russia as the world’s number-two oil exporter. (Source.)
In Abu Dhabi, I met an educator from an elite private school in Irbil who reported on the city's remarkable progress over the last decade. I also spoke with an American army veteran who talked about how much he loves the Iraqi people, and how industrious they are. In Turkey, I met businessmen who invited me to accompany them on one of their frequent trips to northern Iraq. As an American, I demurred, thinking it unsafe. But now I wonder if I was too influenced by sensationalistic media reports. All of these encounters have challenged my negative preconceptions of Iraq.
So you're saying America's mission in Iraq has not been a complete catastrophe?
The question is how the Kurdish region, which spans from Iraq to Northern Syria and Southern Turkey, will develop, and how much autonomy it can grasp. Today's Zaman columnist GÖKHAN BACIK classifies this area as a "transnational border." He observes:
"The Syrian-Turkish border has failed. No matter how the Syrian crisis ends up, that border will become transnational in practice. The Kurds who live on its southern and northern flanks will not reinstate it. So, how will Ankara rule its Kurdish people who are in a transnational relationship with other groups in another country? There is now one simple fact: Turkey should be seeking harmony in its policy towards its own Kurds and Syrian Kurds under the control of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Discord will draw backfire from both quarters."