What’s going on in Egypt this week may just be the clearest sign yet that things are changing in Iraq. As what is described as a “geopolitical shift,” the NY Times reported how foreign countries were busy flying out nationals this week, and then noted how “even Iraq decided it would evacuate its citizens, sending three planes — including the prime minister’s plane — to take home those who wish to return at no charge.” A small bit of irony given that Egypt is home to thousands of Iraqis who had fled the country during their own hard times just a few years back.
So it’s inevitable, just like how even travel to Afghanistan still continues, Iraq itself is starting to notice some travelers trickle back. Heck, it even made the Top 41 Places to Go in 2011 — beating out Durham and Kosovo! Okay, maybe the whole of the country isn’t exactly Orlando, and it should be noted that most travelers see the country by way of Kurdistan — the semi-autonomous region just over the border from Turkey — but come on, how cool is this?
“So where did you go last summer? Paris? Pretty cool. Yeah, I was just in Iraq for a few weeks, you know, just to check it out.”
And what were his biggest annoyances while there? Stray artillery shells, war-torn poverty, anti-Americanism? Actually, beside the aforesaid traffic checkpoints, seems he was most annoyed by the proliferation of shawarma — seems to be pretty popular there and crowds out most other options. Eh, it could obviously be worse.
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