An Open Letter, just a little ‘hello’, nothing serious


Dear

 

How are you? You’ve asked me to write about what’s happening here so many times, and all I’ve ever given was a couple of lines or a short Skype, I thought I’d fill you in once a week. Truly, my life here is experienced the same as it would be there, but perhaps you might find the details interesting.

 

The headline is that I’m currently depressed, but this will pass by morning. I’ve just spent $20 on beer in a local bar watching Sunderland be shit, and my insistence on having audible commentary (when the latest cuts from Pit Bull, Rhianna and whoever else could have been playing) went down like a swimming pool’s floater. It turns out that Iraq has many Crystal Palace fans when you deprive the drinkers of a pop hip hop soundtrack.

 

In other news, the Syria thing looks a bit scary. I shed a tear on the phone with my mother yesterday morning, as we applauded the politicians back in the UK for voting down a bill to ‘strike’ Assad and his alleged chemical weapon bunkers. After 30 hours thought, the irrelevance of the UK is compounded by the fact that Obama will go ahead without us – perhaps, in the long term, this is great for us Brits, but short term it still seems to me that a huge mistake is about to be made. Americans, a Canadian and maybe a Romanian (but she wasn’t explicit) think it’s time to bomb. I just can’t see what would be achieved, other than upgrading conflict to war.

 

You know Tick, the dog that Lucie saved? Well, she is still awaiting his arrival in Switzerland – Jacob & Cathy, a British couple in Suly, have been trying to get him on the plane to be with Lucie. But, in Kurdish style, it’s not happening. The poor sod has been caged, re-caged and stressed on four occasions so far – fingers crossed he’ll be barking at Milka cows and eating cuckoo clocks within a week.

 

Not much else to say really. Spent some time repairing the hexacopter today – soldering irons are not difficult, and it seems I have control of the software, even without Tech Support Guru Colin here. I feel like a kid riding his bike when dad lets go for the first time. Should be in the air again within a week, and then I just need to build the new camera housing. This engineering lark – piece of piss (it really isn’t, but one must keep a positive mind.)

 

Kaka Mahmound, my private client, has been on holiday – he should be back soon, so we can start up with lessons again. I’m looking forward to that. The money helps, but the few hours a week connect me with Kurdistan, something I’ve not really had since moving to Erbil at the start of the year. I’m going to visit Sulaymaniyah next weekend, want to say hello to some people.

 

Anyway, please leave your news in the comments section, it’ll be good to hear from you.

 

Love & Respect as ever,

 

Luke

 

PS I saw this bucket today. Do you want one for your bedside?Image

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What I Don’t Know About Syria.


 

For over two years Syria has been in a state of civil war. This conflict grimly blossomed from the hope sprung from the Arab Spring, from people’s desire for secular, democratic change in government – that’s how I see it at least. I’m not a news journalist, but I have a greater than passing interest in the troubles of my neighbouring countries, and there’s always some shit going on on the national or regional boundaries around me. I don’t pretend to understand the religious and political tensions, decades old, that have somehow flared into this tragedy. For all the talk of Alawites, Shia, Sunni, Salafist, for every mention of Al Qaeda’s Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA), I get lost in acronyms, and confused by divisions.

 

 

Why are the US and the ever-willing coalition about to rain targeted missiles on Assad’s forces with such little, unpublished evidence? Assad’s enemies include ISIS. As far as my troubled mind can see, that means tacit support for Al Qaeda. Obama is going to take the region to the brink, because of a ‘red-line’ he drew after chemical weapons were used in June (most likely by ‘rebels’ for want of a better fucking word). In whose interests, which side in this depressing, senseless, ugly conflict, in whose interests are the use of chemical weapons? Remember, the good guys in the FSA, the faction that is most stable, include that dude filmed eating a ‘regime’ (urgh, the language of propaganda) soldier’s heart. Is it such a leap that the less savoury elements of the guerilla army may see fit to gas a few hundred in order to get the western pricks to bomb and at the same time fill the order books at Lockheed Martin?

 

The fissures in the US Russian back down of the last 25 years are threatened by this conflict, jawed apart by direct involvement. If you can’t see Israel and Iran and their crackpot cockwand heads of state eyeing up the mother of all battles at the slightest provocation, you’re blind. Iraq will dissolve like cheap sugar in strong tea. The bleed across borders into Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt. It’s grim in my view, but then I’m disposed to think the worst.

 

I know one thing. If I was in England, I’d be marching. I don’t know if there is anything planned, there hasn’t been the foreplay that Bush & Blair engaged in, there isn’t time to convene a million souls with banners. I hope some of you try – they can’t possibly ignore the will of the people a second time in just over a decade, can they? And if they do, perhaps it’s time for a Western Spring.