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  #31  
Old 9 Dec 2011
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A good read , before you visit kurd iraq , is" Road through Kurdistan", by A. M. hamilton.

This book was my main reason for travelling there, you cannot imagine my surprise when i was befriended by the mayor of rawanduz ,who,s gt. grandfather helped hamilton in the construction of the" hamilton highway".

He had recently played host to hamiltons grandaughter and her 2 sons.
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  #32  
Old 3 Jan 2012
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I tip my hat, and wish anyone else brave enough good luck, its not quite safe enough for me thats for sure!!
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  #33  
Old 3 Jan 2012
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all the neigh-sayers, doomed, doomed I tell you.

I'm investigating nipping into N. Iraq next summer. :-)
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  #34  
Old 4 Jan 2012
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Great trip report, Tarzan!

I've been to the "Republic of Iraq - Kurdistan Region" (so says the passport stamp) in 2008 and contrary to some armchair travelers in this thread, I can confirm it's a very interesting and relatively safe destination.

The most dangerous part for me was in Turkey from Van via Hakkari and Cizre to the Turkish/Iraqi border at Silopi. That Turkish road was like a warzone with fighter jets, combat helicopters, many heavily fortified military checkpoints and VERY nervous Turkish draft soldiers.

This came as a surprise to me, since there are no accurate reports in the mainstream media and even most of my Turkish friends themselves do not know the full truth about that corner of their country.

Of course they don't know, because the average Turk would never put his foot into the "hot" Kurdish areas - and just reiterate the official propaganda (as visible on this thread).

A sidenote: I had two aggressive moments with young Kurds, based on religious arguments. They were a lot more islamic fundamentalist than I expected. The usual portrait is that they are secular compared to the other groups in the area - not true IMHO.
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Last edited by Travelbug; 4 Jan 2012 at 10:28.
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  #35  
Old 4 Jan 2012
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Originally Posted by Travelbug View Post
A sidenote: I had two aggressive moments with young Kurds, based on religious arguments. They were a lot more islamic fundamentalist than I expected. The usual portrait is that they are secular compared to the other groups in the area - not true IMHO.

It's my understanding that some Chinese massage shops and Christian liquor shops have been torched to ashes early December in Zakho by a screaming crowd , in the north of Kurdistan, after a local religious guide blamed them as anti-islamic during a sermon (Iraq: Muslims Attack and Torch Christian Businesses After Friday Prayers - YouTube)

I'm sorry for this, I have some options for my 2012 summer holiday ride and Iraqi Kurdistan in addition to Iran is one of them.
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  #36  
Old 4 Jan 2012
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Originally Posted by Travelbug View Post
Great trip report, Tarzan!

I've been to the "Republic of Iraq - Kurdistan Region" (so says the passport stamp) in 2008 and contrary to some armchair travelers in this thread, I can confirm it's a very interesting and relatively safe destination.

The most dangerous part for me was in Turkey from Van via Hakkari and Cizre to the Turkish/Iraqi border at Silopi. That Turkish road was like a warzone with fighter jets, combat helicopters, many heavily fortified military checkpoints and VERY nervous Turkish draft soldiers.

This came as a surprise to me, since there are no accurate reports in the mainstream media and even most of my Turkish friends themselves do not know the full truth about that corner of their country.

Of course they don't know, because the average Turk would never put his foot into the "hot" Kurdish areas - and just reiterate the official propaganda (as visible on this thread).

A sidenote: I had two aggressive moments with young Kurds, based on religious arguments. They were a lot more islamic fundamentalist than I expected. The usual portrait is that they are secular compared to the other groups in the area - not true IMHO.
Hi Travelbug,
Both the BBC world news and Al Jazeera, to name two, have carried coverage of the Turkish/Kurd conflict, over quite a few years. The journalists are not always there so I guess it is not continuous reporting, but there is little doubt that the conflict continues.

As a side comment, Turkey is the fascinating country because of its' international borders and the current relations between those countries and their relations with Turkey itself - Syria, Iraq, Iran, Armenia, Georgia etc etc

FWIW, my limited experience indicates that peoples are tribal first and foremost, religious next, and they may have affiliation with their country, thirdly.
The tribal issue can be very complex with sub-affiliations and loyalties; hence those with a western-society upbringing have difficulty to comprehend some aspects such as the intensity of feeling; as for religion, I'm not going down that route!!

Actually, isn't this why we all travel??
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  #37  
Old 4 Jan 2012
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Actually, isn't this why we all travel??
Hi Dave,

yes, indeed, I guess one of the main motivations for HUBB style travel, and certainly my own motivation, is to get a first hand view, without distortions by the media.

IMHO, there are three distortions or common misconceptions in regards to 'Kurdistan':

a) "All of Iraq is a dangerzone" => NOT TRUE

North Iraq is a pretty safe place in regards to crime, terror or even war activity.

b) "East Turkey (in particular post-Öcalan) is a relatively safe place with only occasional 'police vs. terrorist activity' and without visible effect on travelers" => NOT TRUE

The Hakkari area is a real dangerzone or warzone, however you want to call it. There is heavy military presence (not only police). It is nerve wrecking for the inhabitants, the military, and the traveler.

c) The Kurds' agenda is primarily 'freedom-oriented', 'nationalist' and 'secular' whereas religion is less important to them. => NOT TRUE

Islam is as important to them as it is to Iraqi Shiites/Sunnis or Persian Shiites - and probably more important than to the majority of Turks (this may have economic reasons as well).

In all three cases, the Western media distribute a distorted picture to serve an agenda. AKA propaganda.

BTW, a similar media spin is played against Iran, Chechnya, Belorus, North Sudan, and even North Korea. Not such hellholes as we are made to believe.

I spent time in Istanbul and I speak the Turkish language quite fluently. I've been to every war zone on the planet. I respect difference in qualified opinions, but not from the posters (two or three on this thread) that have not been in those areas themselves.
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  #38  
Old 4 Jan 2012
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Thanks for the considered input Travebug.

I haven't been to "Kurdistan" but I have some understanding of the fundamentals from reading between the lines of the media, based on some experience of what governments are prepared to do on behalf of their own citizens + some time spent in a few areas of conflict spanning about 16 years; these years of background have confirmed my own views about what drives the various conflicts, but I am always looking for an exception, if only to prove the rule!
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