Skip to main content

Iraq Notebook: No talk of the Turkish model

Although Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu spoke in Kurdish during a conference on his first visit to Sulaimaniyah, most Iraqis wonder what happened to the once promising Turkish model for the region.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu addresses the media during a joint news conference with Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari (not seen) at the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Baghdad, November 10, 2013.  REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani (IRAQ - Tags: POLITICS) - RTX157TK

SULAIMANIYAH, Kurdistan Region, Iraq — Baghdad hasn’t changed all that much since I last saw it three years ago. It is still the “City of Cement,” an excellent title my late colleague Anthony Shadid had used for an article. Huge concrete blocks placed to thwart car bombs encircling the Green Zone and its vicinity had long turned the once fabulous and legendary city of yore to a full-fledged “City of Cement.”

If Baghdad is a “City of Cement,” then the highways linking the city to other parts of the country can be called “Routes of Checkpoints.” So much so that in some places you pass through three checkpoints within 100 meters (328 feet). Traffic jams for ordinary people form long queues of cars and trucks. If you have special passes or cards given by military intelligence, you can take the liberty of driving in the opposite lane, never mind the oncoming traffic, creating an additional danger to already hazardous traffic. And there are many people enjoying those rights.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.