Today I called the Iraqi Embassy early. I was told by Walid Al Rawi, the man in charge of granting visas to foreign nationals that the authorization had still not arrived. He informed me that the entirety of the government offices will be closed from tomorrow morning until Monday morning.
This means I will not be able to get to Baghdad before the Constitutional referendum on Saturday. It also means I will probably not get to Baghdad until Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, but we will see.
The situation in Iraq is, of course, getting worse by the day, but it iss also getting more and more difficult for Journalists, NGO members, and others to get into Iraq. Just today, Greg, a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams was sent back from the airport in Baghdad.
He had all the paperwork he was responsible to bring, and has been to Iraq 4 times previously. When he arrived he was informed that as of (less than) two weeks ago, he needs to have a letter from the Ministry of Interior authorizing his entrance to Iraq.
This information was not appropriately disseminated to CPT, despite the fact that they have been working in Iraq for well over two years now, as a well known and established NGO in Baghdad.
Greg told me, “I don’t think they want anyone in Baghdad or Iraq who might be offering an alternative picture. They are making it more and more difficult for independent journalists and aid workers to get into the country.” Greg’s failure to make it into Baghdad, despite having been there three times previously and having clear legitimate purpose for being in the country is making me very worried about my own chances.
However we are making good contacts here in Amman, and perhaps will be having some video sent back from Baghdad early next week. Also look to the site in the coming days leading up to the Referendum. We hope to have breaking news as Iraqis are experiencing it on the ground, particularly on the day of the Referendum.
If you have anything you are particularly interested to know about the situation here in Amman or Iraq feel free to email me your questions! aliveinbaghdad at gmail dot com.