Introduction to “The Other Iraq”

This blog will document my upcoming trip to Iraqi Kurdistan. I will be there from March 11 through March 19, with an additional few days in Istanbul. In Kurdistan, I will primarily be based in Erbil, but I am hoping to make it to Sulaymaniyah as well. Needless to say, it should be an exciting time to be there considering Iraq’s parliamentary elections on March 7.

The purpose of the trip is to complete research for my Master’s thesis at George Washington University. I am researching the Kurdistan Regional Government’s oil policies, particularly as it relates to the KRG’s political relations with Baghdad and Turkey. I hope to learn more about Kurdistan’s oil industry from the perspective of KRG officials and from some of the foreign oil and gas companies operating there.

During my time in Kurdistan, I will interview various KRG officials and private sector individuals familiar with Kurdish oil issues. Even though a number of the interviews will be “on background,” I will try to say as much I can on this blog. Many of the people that I plan on interviewing speak English. However, with normal Kurds that I meet on the street, there will be a language barrier considering I don’t know any Kurdish. But some of them will speak a little Arabic and English. Similar to the “Report from Damascus,” I also plan on detailing some of my personal experiences during the visit, in addition to political issues.

I am not sure how much time I will have to post, but I will try to post as much as I can. I am also planning on setting up a photo website at Picasa. Since I no longer use social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, this blog and and the photo website will be my primary means of documenting the trip.

Upon my return to the U.S. in two weeks, my hope is to get a couple articles published about my experience there or about issues dealing with investment in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Stay tuned for that.

For those wondering about the title of the blog, “The Other Iraq” was a marketing campaign initiated in 2005 by the Kurdistan Development Corporation. Its goal was to promote investment, commerce, and tourism in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. While the other major parts of Iraq have been plagued with violence since 2003, the Kurdish region in the northern part of the country has been relatively safe and thriving economically.

I am definitely looking forward to the trip and having the opportunity to detail some of it here. While I am away, I can be reached at tstrouse@gwu.edu. Hope you enjoy the blog.

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