Oct 30 2007 Letter
Dear Friends, Family and All Good People,
I am in Suleimaniya, Iraqi Kurdistan. Peggy and I flew out of Chicago October 25 and caught up with Anita and Michele in Amman the next evening. We flew here just over a day later. Hills and mountains ring Suleimaniya (Suly) and about an hour to the east is the Iranian border. Then we are about 100 kilometers from Kirkuk, one of the oil capitals of Iraq.
The Jordan Times had two interesting articles that caught my attention as we passed through Jordan. The first article reported that global oil wells will be producing half of the present level in 2030. The second article highlighted the propaganda buildup for the invasion of Iran by the United States. Both of these issues are having an impact on Kurdistan.
Kirkuk is set to hold a vote on whether the Kurdish region or the central Sunni region of Iraq will have control of Kirkuk. The vote is to take place in December after a census, but it seems unlikely that the latter will happen soon.
The Iranian issue is losing prominence in this area because of the increasing focus on the struggle between the PKK and the Turkish military on the northern border of Iraq. Today the military recruiters were active in the center of this city. We heard the martial music and correctly interpreted what was happening.
Our visas are still in limbo as we wait for the directorate to send our acceptance letter to the airport, so we can get our passports back! A new step in the process is that the Directorate of Awqaf (Religious Trust) and Religious Affairs approves, or rejects, our applications for visa extension to facilitate the process.
Anna just reported to us that the dam on Dokan Lake will cut back its electric production this winter and we will have many more hours without power, unless the hotel chooses to turn on the generator. It may be a dark season. Presently we have about twelve hours of electricity each day, including what we receive from the generator.
Another issue facing this region is the influx of internally displaced persons from the south and center of Iraq. The Iraqi Red Crescent estimates there are about 160,000 displaced into the three governates of Dahuk, Erbil and Suleimaniya. This city of over one million people has received about 100 Christian families and more than doubled the Christian population. The public schools are running three shifts and student numbers are about 40 in each class. It is a big effort for the schools. There are both Kurdish and Arab schools, because most of those displaced to the Kurdish area are Arab speakers.
This part of the Kurdish area is very Kurdish. I have not seen Iraqi flags. I have heard that English is the second language to Kurdish, rather than Arabic. There seems to be a clear movement toward autonomy, if not independence.
Since the issue is less visible here, all of you just make sure the US administration cannot pull off the invasion and bombing of Iran.
Peace and joy to each of you!