Saturday, January 24, 2009
Here is an e-mail which was forwarded to me, written by someone who works at the American Embassy in Kurdistan (I have left spelling, etc., as it came through in the original):
The group I work with at the Embassy (locally here in Kurdistan) have permission to leave our compound 1 time per week for social reasons. With a significant, but unnecessary, security detail. (Erbil is very safe if you are American) We planned a trip to a German Kurdish restaurant for tonight 2 weeks ago, without considering the inauguration when we did so. This morning, I called the restaurant to see if there was a TV there, as we all wanted to see the event. (note that many there are political appointees here of the prior administration) the restaurant staff said they didn't have one, but would "see what they could do" being the middle east, we didn't have high expectations... when we arrived, there was a huge American flag flying outside the restaurant. Inside was another large flag (our reservation was for 10 people) and a 20' x 30' projection TV with CNN on a wall! The most amazing thing happened when the swearing in took place. When the (elect) took his place at the podium, every employee came out of the kitchen, every Kurdish and Iraqi patron stood up...we followed their lead, and many cried while he was sworn in...i cannot even attempt to understand the emotions which took place here, in a non descript restaurant, in Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq...and we had to argue with the owner to be able to pay our full bill...they wanted to cover it...in a place where people earn an average of 3k per year. I thought that you might be interested in this observation of what just happened, in this remote part of the world, as American democracy shows its face yet again.
(Map found on Wikipedia)