This is already day 5 of my 10-day visa for Iraqi Kurdistan. According to various sources on the ‘net it should be easily possible to extend the visa at the Directorate of Residency. Now today I found an article in a travel blog that tells a hilarious story of useless bureaucracy at the Directorate – and a failed attempt to get the visa extended.
I’ll give the process a try tomorrow myself. If it fails I’ll have to skip my visits to Slemani (aka Sulaymaniyah) and Amedi (aka Amadiyah), the latter of which was another main reason for visiting Iraqi Kurdistan in the first place.
Ramadan is almost over (tomorrow is the last day) and I cannot say that I’m not happy about it. I must have lost what feels like 10kg of weight over the last days.
So why the heck would anyone voluntarily go to Iraq without being paid lots of money? Well, even though Iraqi Kurdistan is technically in Iraq, it is way different from Arabic Iraq which makes the news so often. Kurdish Iraq has been spared from Gulf War II and enjoys autonomy from Arabic Iraq in many matters since 1991. It has its own government and army (aforementioned Peshmerga). It’s security situation is entirely different from the rest of Iraq. In fact, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) actively promotes tourism to the region and calls Kurdistan “The Other Iraq”.
Peshmerga operate checkpoints along the border to Arabic Iraq (as well as inside Kurdistan) to keep insurgents out.
So, given the hostile conditions in Arabic Iraq and Turkey’s and Iran’s ‘unfriendly’ behavior towards the Kurds, it is no big surprise they are a bit paranoid here.