Barbarians at the Gates: A Postcard from Erbil

Iraq , Journalism , Travel , War Jan 12, 2015 No Comments

The car bomb sounded like a car backfiring. I heard it, dismissed it, and went back to sleep. It was only a few hours later, as I sat at the window of Erbil’s Hotel Merci, looking out over a two-story image of Leo Messi advertising Pepsi, that I realized how close I had been—too close for comfort—to the city’s first bombing in nearly a year. It had exploded only a few blocks away.

It was August 2014. I had arrived in Iraqi Kurdistan a few days earlier, without plans, without press credentials, and with only a handful of contacts. There had been confusion on the Turkish side of the border—my Turkish e-visa couldn’t be confirmed at passport control and I had to visit the police. As my bags were searched for journalistic paraphernalia, which I had managed to leave on the bus, I asked an English-German archaeologist to translate the message that I was merely a reckless tourist, but he declined. In the end, however, they bought my story. “Good luck,” the border guard shrugged.

Read the full article in World Affairs Journal.

Matthew Clayfield

Matthew Clayfield is a journalist, critic and screenwriter.

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