Response to Israel finds another obstacle

Hello Guy Incognito, thanks for showing interest in my visits to Iraq. (It's only the second time someone on this 'anti-war in Iraq' website has asked, but it's also the second time only it's mentioned like this). I visited Iraq with a British archeological tour group (a good way to obtain a visa, no individual travellers were allowed in Saddams Iraq at the time), consisting of mainly pensioners (somewhat eccentric, but fascinating, people that had seen it all - I shared a room with an 81 year old Canadian WW2 pilot) and two women from the British Museum. Unfortunately our visit coincided with the start of the 2003 war (we entered from Syria the same day the UN left, and got only as far as Rutbah, a border town in the desert. Due to roadblocks we never reached Baghdad, where - in retrospect - we know we would have been safe, like the TV crews, at the Palestine Hotel (but it would have cost us handsomely, in cash...) Six months later, the group was given a 'bonus' tour of Iraq, and at this time things were fairly calm (though we saw our share of violence, and two bombings) and we were able to see the entire country, from south to north. Including Baghdad, Basrah, Najaf, Kerbala, Hilla, Kirkuk, Mosul, Tikrit and even Fallujah and Ramadi (here we only drove through, quickly), and of course the historic sites like Babylon, Ur, Uruk, Eridu (the oldest city in the world) and Niniveh. Remarkably we were also able to enter every mosque of interest on the way, around which, only months later, full war would be waged. So the window of opportunity proved ideal, and we were probably among the first and last tourists Iraq would see for some years to come. Too bad, the country has a lot to offer tourists, if it one day calms down. The most exciting about Iraq, should any of you go, is to experience the people, their way of thinking and reasoning (or not), the mix of past and present (satelite phones, Middle Age mentality), hospitality and hostility side by side, basically how everything differs from back home, and from what you're told on the BBC etc. Most people in the West have an idea of what is going on in Iraq (though most seem not terribly interested, beyond the entertainment and partytalk value of bombs on TV). Trying to make sense of a complex issue like Iraq, is a bit like having been to the Moon, and trying to explain the craters, and being constantly told that it's the holes in the cheese. That's how a few (at least 2 very active) members behave on this website. I'm maybe too cynical, or too provoked, about those few members. I'll try to contribute more useful opinions in future threads.

Created By: James Rooney