December 12, 2016
I was invited to attend a conference, in Erbil, Kurdistan, December 13-14, 2016. It was organized by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and inaugurated by its Minister, Dr. Yusuf Goran, the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani; Soran University‘s President Dr. Muslih Mustafa and Vice President for Scientific Affairs Dr. Nahro Zagros
I will try to summarize the essence of the trip-two full days of conferences with panelists and moderators addressing the controversial subject of terrorism, its roots and consequences in the heart of a peaceful region in a dangerous neighborhood. The theme of the conference was: Tolerance, Life. Terror Threats and the Experience of Co-existence in the Kurdistan Region.
Upon landing in Erbil, the three other guests from the United States and I were taken to the airport’s lounge where we waited a little until our luggage was retrieved, enjoying a cup of sweet, aromatic Black tea, “Chai,” served in short glasses.
“Kurdistan Country,” is a beacon of light in the Middle East and Erbil, is considered “the oldest continuously lived city, (the Citadel is at least 5,000 years old and artifacts and ruins recently discovered predate it for at least 3,000 years. In 2014, UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site) described as the “cradle of civilization,” at 56 miles from Mosul where DA’SH (as the locals refer to this human scourge) or ISIS/ISIL still maintains its terrorist presence. There are approximately 25-35 million Kurds in the world, the 4th largest ethnic group, and inhabit areas of Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria and Armenia and although history records show that “provisions were drawn for a Kurdish state after WWI,” it never happened…
As soon as we arrived at the Hotel we had enough time for a rest and meet our hosts, H.E. Minister Dr. Yusuf Goran, Dr.Nahro Zagros and other Conference participants. We then left for a dinner, a stroll and short car trip around the city… We were taken downtown and my first sighting of the majestic Citadel and semi-closed Bazaar, was through a car window…!! It was interesting to see that merchants had left their wares in carts, in their place, only covered by fabrics/plastics, remaining unsecured, unlocked!
Seeing the Citadel reminded me of the first time I saw Rome (Italy) in 1981 and how the enormity of Coliseum impressed me then!… In my years of business travels I always brought small token gifts…For this occasion, I brought a few pewter book markers inscribed with a quote by George Washington on one side and his signature and date of the quote on the other. I purchased them at the Mount Vernon Museum in Alexandria, VA. If I remember correctly a couple of the quotes on the markers read: “Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth, ” and “True Friendship is a plant of slow growth…”
To be continued…