Since arriving in Amman, I have been told by a number of different people,that I should be able to take a plane directly to Baghdad, and obtain a visa upon arrival. Today I walked to Iraqi Airways (IA), which is only a short way from Al’Munzor, to check out this possibility.
If such an arrangement were possible, it would be a much faster process than waiting for the visa to clear at the embassy! Unfortunately, it is a very expensive trip to take if I am not able to enter Baghdad. The ticket to Baghdad on Iraqi Airways is $772.00 American dollars roundtrip, and it is $423.00 for a one way ticket. Royal Jordanian is even more expensive.
It was interesting to arrive at IA just before closing. There were not many people in that part of Amman, where many of the travel agencies are located. However, outside the IA office, there was a large number of people milling about. The office was still open even though it was 2:30 or 3:00 pm-I later learned that they normally close at 2pm during Ramadan, I guess I was lucky!
Not so lucky about the news from the man at Iraqi Airways. It turns out that they no longer even let you on the airplane without a visa! So I guess I will be waiting in Amman for awhile. I have been talking with my contact in Baghdad, and hopefully we will arrange for a friend to transport a camera and tapes from me to him. This friend will also be able to transport tapes between Baghdad an Amman. If this works, perhaps I will be receiving video from Baghdad as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday.
On the non-video side, I will also be sending lists of questions to my contact so that he can conduct interviews with Iraqis in Baghdad, which I can compile into published articles. This is similar to the process that journalists in Baghdad follow, while staying holed up in fancy hotels in the Green Zone.
It is my hope that after the referendum, next week or next weekend at the least, I will be able to travel to Baghdad to report myself. But until then, this is at least a workable option. If you have any questions you would like answered from Baghdad, feel free to email me at: aliveinbaghdad at gmail dot com. I will see if I can find answers to your questions, that is why I am here!
Perhaps I will know more about the visa tomorrow or Monday, once I can contact the embassy again. I’ll keep you updated…