May 9, 2008

Golfing in Iraq, antiquities, logos and other miscellanea.

I have not been writing recently...

There's a fun piece on golf in Baghdad. I walked with a good friend and colleague, Ed, next to this course, which isn't nearly as nice as it sounds in the article! A couple of excerpts:

Photo by Petr David Josek, Associated Press of Bradley Brooks, author of the article

... My first swing off the first tee was smooth and the ball sailed straight and true.

For a brief moment I forgot where I was. ...

One recent afternoon -- squeezed in between sandstorms and incoming mortar rounds -- a colleague and I hit the links. We dubbed it the Baghdad Open. ...

The course "is the sole entertainment that we have here in Iraq"...

I was in Baghdad yesterday for a quick meeting to talk about Sadrists. Each province has a different situation, and of course Baghdad has the most violence. The IZ has been hit by rockets or mortars almost every day for more than one month.

The process for registering political parties and candidates has begun, although an electoral law has not yet been passed by the Council of Representatives (Parliament). There is a lot riding on the outcome: from political reconciliation and further federalization to reconstruction and corruption. All these things are sure to be impacted by the vote that hopefully will take place in the Fall.

A UNESCO-mandated report by International Investigation Committee of Archaeologists is expected to release a report on the Babylonian site, which has been closed since allegations were made about damages done by coalition forces. We and the Poles had forces located at the site at different times between 2003 and 2006. (There is currently a Babylon exhibition at the Louvre
Attempts by the Louvre to get Iraq to loan it some treasures were thwarted by security issues.)

I'll send some photos of a recent visit to the Babylonian ruins and Saddam's Palace, that he built atop an artificial Hill on the banks of the Euphrates.

The Lion of Babylon is very famous but it is also a statue that conveys mixed feelings for the local citizens, as we discovered when looking for a logo for the Babil PRT.

We now have a Ninevan figure on our crest. Nineva, however, is a province up north with no connection to this province of Babil/Babylon.) We ruled out the Tower of Babel as an option -- not a positive message. The local Iraqis said that the Lion of Babel was actually created by the Assyrian conquerors of Babylon and placed facing eastward toward the Persians to shown them what they could expect if they invaded, i.e., have a lion standing over them. I liked the second part of that message, but the symbol is one of a conqueror for some of our employees, so it seems that the figure of Hammurabi being given the code of laws is the winner.

There are several lawyers on our PRT who are pleased with the outcome. It is, of course, reassuring to know that lawyers can aspire to upward mobility and service on PRTs in Iraq!
In all seriousness, rule of law issues here are rather important. Tomorrow, I should have some interesting news to report. Until then . . .

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