Saturday, February 7, 2009

But the Surge is Working!

Falluja’s Strange Visitor - A Western Tourist -

Apparently the Surge is not working well enough for tourism to return to Iraq!

"Mr. Yacoub checked Mr. Marchio’s documents and despite qualms about hosting a foreigner found his papers in order and gave him a room key. “He told us he just wanted to see Baghdad,” Mr. Yacoub said.

Asked if he thought Iraq was ready for tourists, Mr. Yacoub said, “No.” When he was asked if he believed Falluja was safe for tourists, his emphatic “no” was echoed by staff members and guests standing within earshot."

" The next morning he set out for Falluja despite the hotel staff’s efforts to dissuade him, insisting on taking a public bus to the city, 40 miles west of Baghdad.

Within hours, the hotel staff received a call from the Falluja police. “I wasn’t surprised when they called,” Mr. Yacoub said. The police told him that they had found Mr. Marchio in a minibus next to a woman who sold fresh milk, yogurt and cream door to door. “They were very worried about him,” Mr. Yacoub said.

For the eager Mr. Marchio, that was the end of his bella viaggio in Iraq.

The police summoned local Iraqi journalists to tell them of the wandering Italian, American marines were called in, the Italian Embassy was notified. The police concluded that Mr. Marchio was not an Italian jihadist and was a risk to no one but himself. An American marine working with the police suggested taking him to the city limits and dropping him where Falluja met the main highway.

“I explained to him that it was not safe to move around,” said Renato Di Porcia, the deputy chief of mission at the Italian Embassy in Baghdad. “He is a little bit naïve.”

On Friday night Mr. Marchio was being held for his own safety, the Iraqi police said. “He will leave with the earliest flight tomorrow morning,” Mr. Di Porcia said.

When will Iraq be safe for tourists?"

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