Saturday, January 26, 2008

Citadel rescue plan offers hope in Iraq

Today's article on USATODAY offers some hope for Iraq and the world for obtaining peace & prosperity.

Citadel rescue plan offers hope in Iraq

By Elena Becatoros, Associated Press

IRBIL, Iraq — Towering above the modern streets and buildings of Irbil, the citadel's narrow alleyways and dusty courtyards stand almost deserted. Its mud-brick houses, built atop layers of ancient civilizations stretching back through millennia, are crumbling.

Irbil's citadel, claimed to be one of the longest continuously inhabited urban areas on Earth with a history of more than 8,000 years, is in danger. Its slopes are eroding and its buildings are collapsing.

But authorities in northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region have a plan to rescue it. They hope to turn the citadel, and the vast archaeological wealth buried within the mound on which it stands, into a world-renowned tourist site complete with hotels, coffee houses, art galleries — and a vibrant, permanent living community.

The planned reconstruction is a beacon of hope for Iraq's rich cultural heritage, and highlights the vast differences between the relatively tranquil Kurdish region in the north, and the violence in other parts of the country.

In Irbil, the Kurdish region's capital 215 miles north of Baghdad, the only indication that this is still a country at war is the tall concrete blast walls, featuring bucolic murals, that protect government buildings and major hotels from bombs.

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