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Write: Hasan Mert Kaya Photos: Hasan Çolpan
Nearer Than Ever Now: Iraq
Nearer Than Ever Now: Iraq
IF THERE’S ONE THING CERTAIN ABOUT CIVILIZATION IT’S THAT ITS FOUNDATION WAS LAID IN MESOPOTAMIA. AND IRAQ MAKES UP A GOOD PART OF MESOPOTAMIA.
Mankind owes a lot to these lands where writing was invented, where laws were first written down, in short, where history began. Iraq starts in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains to the north, an area embraced by the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, which have brought fertility and, with it, wisdom to the region for millennia all the way to the Gulf of Basra in the south. The Tigris and the Euphrates are like two lovers yearning with separation, and Iraq the place where they are united, flowing together for approximately 200 kilometers before emptying into the sea at Basra. Known as the Shatt al-Arab, this historic waterway enables giant oil tankers to penetrate far inland. Every city is another world anyway in Iraq, home to the great civilizations of human history. With its deep-rooted past and rich resources, it is a place that has succeeded in rising above devastation of every kind. History is repeating itself here in the wake of the great wars of the recent past as Iraq, like the proverbial phoenix, rises anew from its own ashes bringing with it tremendous opportunities.
Although we have deep cultural and historical ties with all of Iraq, the cities of the country’s north are even closer to Anatolia. The folk songs of Kerkuk, Mosul and Arbil are our sister songs. With its Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens and Chaldeans, Iraq is a relative of the Anatolian people. Hearts beat as one, stomachs fill with the same dishes. The same tunes make us happy and sad by turns. Beyond the cultural ties, the region’s economic centers of attraction and rapidly developing towns like Arbil, Sulaymaniyeh and Salahaddin offer enormous opportunities for trade. Not a day passes but that some commercial institution in Turkey undertakes a new investment in the region, where many firms already have stores and branches. The developing economy and rising income level in turn fuel demand. Thanks to this structure, the region merits close monitoring by investors.
CITY OF WISDOM, BAGHDAD
When it was founded by the Abbasid Caliph Mansur, Baghdad was originally known as Medina’t al-Salam, the City of Peace in Arabic. From its founding until today, it has always been a major city and seat of government. The famous Baghdad Library, rumored to have housed millions of books, and the Bait al-Hikma, or House of Wisdom, a pioneering school in the development of Islamic thought and philosophy, are the first that spring to mind. The Greek, Assyrian and Indian works of the ancient world were translated into Arabic during the reigns of the caliphs Haroun al-Rashid and Mamoun when Baghdad enjoyed a Golden Age.
BASRA, GATEWAY TO THE SEA
Basra at Iraq’s southernmost tip is the country’s port city. Historic Basra on the shores of the gulf of the same name tops the list of places where the country’s commercial heart beats, most notably with oil.
CLOSER THAN EVER NOW WITH TURKISH AIRLINES
Turkish Airlines is the only airline that flies to five cities in Iraq, offering regular weekly flights to Arbil, Sulaymaniyeh, Baghdad, Najaf and Basra.