March 19, 2003
The last few days in Kurdistan the rumor mill has been running at full speed. Yesterday we heard that Taha Yassin Ramadan, vice president of Iraq, had been arrested because he sent his family to safety in Britain. But then last night he was on Iraqi TV, so who knows. (It could have been old film, apparently Saddam Hussein used that tactic during the Gulf War to make it seem like it was business as usual.) Today it’s been about Tariq Aziz. The rumor was that he tried to flee from Baghdad to Kurdistan but was stopped by a Republican Guard unit. He ordered the driver to run through the roadblock and the soldiers shot him. People here are really abuzz about it. Officials here denied it, as did US and Iraqi officials but MSNBC, Sky News, Kuwaiti TV, the Russian news agency Interfax and others did. And then later this afternoon Aziz had a press conference in Baghdad to disprove the rumors. I suppose it was part of a deliberate misinformation campaign by the US, Iraq, the Iraqi opposition, or who knows who. Or maybe just war hysteria. But that was what was going on today.
People continue to stream out of Erbil or get ready for war. Below is a photo of a guy with a photo developing lab, he is building a brick wall in front of it so that looters can’t steal the equipment inside.
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