I guess it's time for some photo-blogging tonight but this time it's not going to be from Baghdad.
As I mentioned yesterday I was out Baghdad for a couple of days. More precisely I was in Erbil and this was my 1st trip to the north in general and to this city in particular. I noticed a few things up there that caught my attention; the 1st one is that Iraqi flags are absent and instead there are the flags of Kurdistan and this is something that I can't blame the Kurds for because of what they suffered under this flag which is still considered a reminder of the dark past for many Iraqis.
Anyway, these are formalities that will be discussed later after the permanent constitution is written approved and it's a waste of time to be concerned about it at the moment.
Still there's one thing that smelled fishy; there were offices for the KDP in almost every street of the city. In Baghdad we have many parties' offices too but here they're for different parties not for one party like in Erbil. I don't know whether we should be concerned about this but I don't feel comfortable with the idea.
I have also noticed that the city is more organized in general; police and Army forces have a strong presence and they're doing their job in a good way and it's fair to say that security is not a concern for the citizens of Erbil. The city has witnessed only one or two big suicide attacks since 2003 and the last one was about a year ago.
The most interesting finding was that traffic lights are functioning there! Something Baghdadis and Iraqis in most of the country's cities have been missing for a long time now.
The infra structure of the city seems like one that has been neglected for a long time and just starting to develop now and this is understandable because of the low budgets assigned for the 3 northern provinces of Kurdistan before April 2003.
But now one could see too many projects and facilities under construction. As a matter of fact there are whole neighborhoods popping up around the city center with municipal services being worked on by the authorities at the same time that people are building their new houses.
I've got some other pictures for you to see, the 1st one is for a housing compound of some 500 apartments at the gate of the city and it's going to be ready soon as you can judge from the picture. This picture is for the TOYOTA agency while this one is for the cultural center that belongs to the University.
Here's a photo for an old prison on the road between Kirkuk and Erbil that Saddam used to lock Iranian POWs in during the war in the 80s and by the way, there are more like this one and they're all in ruins now.
Finally, a few shots for the green fields and hills to consider if someone is planning for a picnic!