A Tale of Two Springs

Facilitating peace, development and banking in Mosul, Iraq

A Tip On Flying Into Mosul

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Mosul Airport

Mosul Airport

As Iraq’s economy begins to show signs of steady growth and investors lurk here and here and here, those flying into Mosul, Iraq’s third largest city, should be aware it could take a while.

There is one regular commercial flight to Mosul, arriving Sunday afternoon from Dubai. If you arrive with a visa, please bring something to sleep in, as you likely will spend the night at the immigration counter at the airport. Iraq immigration officials, in an abundance of caution, confirm all visas by phone with the head office in Baghdad. Though Sunday is a work day in Iraq, Mosul Airport officials say that immigration authorities attending to the phones in Baghdad have gone home by the time of the 3 or 4 pm. arrival of the Dubai flight. Once the Baghdad office opens Monday morning, the visas can be confirmed, and you will be welcomed warmly into Mosul.

For those who prefer not to spend a night at the immigration counter, you may be able to call ahead to the Mosul Airport and have your visa pre-approved. And once you arrive, don’t forget to begin processing your exit visa immediately. That process can take weeks, and you need it to leave.


Written by treadingupthetigris

December 8, 2010 at 5:46 am

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Agricultural Diversity

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Last week I sat in a room beside a farm in northern Iraq to discuss agricultural diversity. The participants discussed farming policy and technique, debating the best way forward for small scale Iraqi farmers, and offered a glimpse of the possibilities of a new Iraq.

I spent an afternoon in Al Qosh, a hamlet nestled beneath the Bayhidhra mountains of northern Iraq, Read the rest of this entry »

Written by treadingupthetigris

July 24, 2010 at 10:36 pm

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Iraqi Election: A View From Mosul

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Collecting information from various sources in our region, a colleague of mine filled out her hourly reporting sheet, monitoring the initial round of voting this afternoon. She called her contacts, mostly local political and community leaders, and reported to us what she heard. On one sheet she wrote: “All reports are peaceful and voting activity continues without incident.” And on the next line: “Sheikh’s home in Mosul bombed this afternoon, destroying two adjacent homes and injuring at least five.” That, for me, is the Iraqi election. Can the democratic dreams of the masses outshine the radical nighmares of a few?

If you had been with me last Thursday evening, you would be an optimist for Iraqi democracy. I sipped tea with a man I call Sheikh Abdi in his hometown, along the Tigris riverbed, very much in the Sunni heartland. Sheikh Abdi lives in a place where many flags of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party still fly, where some yearn for the return of the Hussein years and curse the arrival of the American occupiers. Sheikh Abdi is a makhtar, an elected elder, who appears to be well regarded by his people. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by treadingupthetigris

March 5, 2010 at 12:48 am

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Red Afternoon

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About ten minutes after walking into my office from the midday sun, Faris poked his head in my office: “You see it outside?”
— Nope.
— It’s red.
— Red?

So I followed him out. Dust storm. It was beautiful, actually. The world had literally turned red.

A normal day at the office

A normal day

Today at the office


Written by treadingupthetigris

February 22, 2010 at 11:55 pm

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Three Day Weekends in Mosul

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Yes, we celebrate Washington and Lincoln in Iraq. No, it is not exactly a three day weekend.

The National Holiday Act of 1971 moved all holidays worth anything to Monday and enshrined in law the three day weekend. I am still trying to figure out how that should apply to us.

We work every day but Friday here. On Friday many of our Iraqi counterparts go to the mosque, so we do not work. In Baghdad, they do not work on Friday or Saturday. So the Embassy has applied the spirit of the three day weekend law and moved all Monday US holidays to Sunday here. So on Sunday Americans across Iraq paused to celebrate George Washington and Abe Lincoln.

So here in Mosul we took Friday off, worked Saturday and then had Sunday off. Out of respect for the spirit of Washington and Lincoln, however, with elections approaching and the hope for societal divisions bridged, I think everyone on our post here in Mosul put in a few hours at the office.

Written by treadingupthetigris

February 15, 2010 at 10:22 am

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A Day With Hazziz

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I have spent my first few weeks here meeting with local officials, public and private. In the meetings we discuss politics and family and economics, with a mild focus on the banking system and understanding how we can best facilitate its role as a spark of job creation and economic growth. Money is a weapons system here.

I sat across from the provincial governor, confident and emboldened by a recent excursion to Kurdish lands in which he had previously been denied entry. The governor, with a smile, whispered to me that I not do to his province whatever I did to Wall Street. While there, an aide to the mayor of Mosul advised me to go see a man we will call Hazziz. Hazziz runs an operation that finds employment for tens of thousands of Iraqis. And Hazziz faces a lack of funding and the impending job losses that will follow. Coupled with the stress of approaching elections, the mayor’s office fears a spike in violence. A few days later, thanks to an American colleague who has a good working relationship with Hazziz, I rode through the streets of Mosul to Hazziz’s office. Read the rest of this entry »

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February 14, 2010 at 1:31 am

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Treading Up The Tigris

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Mosul.  January 20, 2010

No matter what political reasons are given for war, the underlying reason is always economic.

~A. J. P. Taylor

I sit across the table from two majors in the United States army. They glare at me, measuring up the new guy, the latest civilian to show up in these parts, and they tell me their plan. Heads of a civil affairs unit who are truly committed to making things right here, jaded but still determined, they sound increasingly eager as we begin to craft our plan.Ninewa is in Northern Iraq, nestled between Syria, the Kurdistan regional area and the Sunni triangleThere is a class in Iraq for which the banking system seems to be functioning pretty well.  Decent interest on savings, loans to start and grow businesses, home mortgages.  And USAID and other US government agencies have successfully provided some degree of support to the institutions in that banking marketplace.  The problem is that group is very small, the majors explained.  It has been decades since Iraq had a census, but estimates are that as many as 90% of families here in Ninewa are subsistence farmers.  And that means 90% of residents are effectively shut out of the banking system, excluded from receipt of American economic assistance in the province.  And these two majors, who have no development background outside of their Iraq experience, have developed a scheme to provide micro-loans to that excluded 90%.  I listen, and we plan.  We have millions of dollars in US taxpayer money at our disposal.

After a career on Wall Street and microenterprise experience in East Africa, Read the rest of this entry »

Written by treadingupthetigris

January 25, 2010 at 6:56 pm

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