I'm a little nervous, a little apprehensive and a whole-lot curious about what I'll find in that particular country. Stories I've heard, and continue to hear, are none-too-pleasant, and a very-chilling thought I had recently is whether history will continue to repeat itself (as people say it already has) to a point where what I will see a few days from now illustrates what Pakistan will look like some years hence. I hope (as do we all) that the international community has learnt it's lesson subsequent to Iraq, and then Afghanistan, but cynicism tends to win out at the end of the day and I really doubt they have. It's difficult to get over the fact that today, Iraq is little more that a politically fascinating case study of utter and complete chaos. So much so, that worry over when (and where) the next series of bomb blasts will be makes me forget to look forward to where I am going. So, to remind me (and you) that there is more in this world than America-sponsored politics, let me give you a tiny glimpse into what Iraq was all about before Bush destroyed the country in a fit of oil-induced lust and madness.
Once upon a time, Iraq was known as Mesopotamia, home to some of the oldest civilizations in the world. The 'cradle of civilization' as they used to call it was ruled (in succession) by Assyrians, Persians, Seleucids and Parthians prior to being conquered by the by the Mongols and Turkmen (incidentally, if you played AOE - as I did - none of these names would sound unfamiliar to you). The region fell under Ottoman rule in the 16th century which ended (like too many things did) with World War I. Like the land of the pure, Iraq was also 'administered' by the British Empire all the way until it was established as the Kingdom of Iraq in 1932. Kings gave way to politicians (I still maintain, there is royalty and then there is Zardari, I leave it up you to figure out why we prefer lily-livered to blue-blooded in this part of the world) and the Republic of Iraq came into being in 1958. Lo and behold politicians were ousted by the military (err, has this story suddenly become freaky or what?!) and the (in)famous Saddam Hussein assumed control of the country from 1979 to 2003. And, my loves, we ALL know what happened after. At present (post the US-led invasion of the country), Iraq is thought to be on the brink of civil war. They speculate, and they theorize, and they pray their damndest for a solution but so far none of the king's horses or the king's men have been able to put humpty dumpty together again.