It often seems as though things are safer here than they are in almost any place I’ve seen or been. As mentioned before, the Peshmerga guards are everywhere: in front of our apartment building, in front of the university, at the entrance to various roadways, the destination of which I can only speculate on, in the middle of traffic, standing along with the traffic police, etc., etc.,.
And it feels safe.
But recently, in Kirkuk, as you may know or recall me mentioning recently, there was a bomb which killed and hurt many people (of note, my student who couldn’t finish his homework because he had to repair his damaged home).
Here in Suli, we all know Kirkuk isn’t as safe. We don’t go there; in fact, those of us employed by the university aren’t allowed to go there, or even to pass through as a much shorter way to Erbil. Nor are we allowed to go to Baghdad, or to any Arab controlled areas of Iraq; they are all unstable. But we feel that, as long as we stay here…we are safe.
Last Thursday we all felt a little less secure. At our weekly staff meeting, amongst a plethora of much more mundane items on the agenda, our boss let us know that there was, in fact, a Suli connection between the bombings and our university. Turns out that either “the” guy or one of the guys who was/were responsible for the Kirkuk bombing was a student in one of our programs. The police, or members from some authoritative group here, we were told, had come to the university and arrested a student who was under suspicion for the bombings. The next day, in the (Kurdish) newspapers here, it was announced that, indeed, this – literally – well-respected man about town was indeed responsible for the bombings in Kirkuk a couple of weeks ago that cost so many of our students’ loss of relatives or homes.
We were assured that, although this person had, daily, been in our midst and had literally wreaked havoc on people we know, he had at no time been planning to harm anyone here in Suli.
I still feel pretty safe but, it was certainly a bit too close for comfort.