The Reality of Traveling

19th February 2020

Knowing how to move through life can be difficult

They say forewarned is forearmed. Nowhere is this axiom truer than in international travel. There are lots of reasons why we gravitate towards various destinations around the world. The culture, architecture, and tradition other countries proudly boast can endlessly fascinate travelers and tourists. Sometimes we feel nostalgia for a place we’ve never been, simply because we have family from those places. But is there one platform with a stranglehold on the public’s perception of certain regions? If so, perhaps many would agree that the news media should hold that title.

Oftentimes, even the well-educated gather the lion’s share of their understanding of everyday life in other countries from information provided to them by the news. This is not automatically a bad thing. After all, other than journalists on the ground in other countries and their sources, where should we receive news of unrest and civil discord?

Take Iraq, for example. The Middle East is a very complicated region, with staggering wealth residing beside geopolitical upheaval. There are few countries in the Middle East where this is as apparent as it is in Iraq.

Civil Unrest

Since the beginning of October, Iraqis have been protesting in the capital of Baghdad. Demonstrations have been popping up in other important cities throughout the country. Their currency is the peoples dinar and it’s shared by multiple other countries in the area.

As Iraq tears itself apart, its economic equilibrium will continue to deteriorate, further contributing to the turmoil at hand. It’s natural to sympathize with the Iraqi people, but their situation is undeniably dire, and it would be wise for anyone pondering traveling to this part of the world to make sure they are fully informed about what they might face when they arrive.

Iraq’s near and distant future: What will happen to the beleaguered nation?

While not all hope is lost, the situation in Iraq does not bode well. Consider these points:

The unrest in Iraq stems from a lack of basic rights

Initially, more moderate protests evolved due to frustrations concerning a perceived lack of human rights for Iraqi citizens. Things taken for granted elsewhere, such as access to electricity, water, and employment, have been scarce in the desert country. As time progressed, so too did their demands: corrupt politicians went virtually unpunished for their transgressions. Too much power has been siphoned from the people and used to prop up the ruling class.

When a few thousand enraged protesters attempted to cross into Baghdad’s well-preserved Green Zone, police fired volleys of warning shots to keep them at bay. Weeks later, live ammunition was unleashed on the unruly mob.

The Iraqi government’s efforts have only backfired and worsened the tension

A government-directed lockdown has swept across Iraq. No internet, no messaging apps, no social media. The goals have been, at least, to partially suppress dissent as infrastructure, public goods, and services have broken down rapidly.

Skirmishes between protesters and security forces have broken out repeatedly. Gunfire now vies with explosives and tear gas for dominance in the violent struggles plaguing Iraq. It’s estimated that hundreds have already lost their lives, and the medical professionals attempting to tend to the wounded often find similar fates. The public’s fury has only grown in the wake up of these tragedies. Looting and burning have become pastimes.

Iraqi banks are panicking

A bank run is when virtually all of those with accounts at an institution lose faith in that institution and withdraw all of their holdings at once. Iraq’s Central Bank has taken steps to prevent this, but they can only be so successful. The dinar in Iraq has repeatedly reached new lows.

Furthermore, Iranian forces have been found to be interfering in the sovereign machinations of their neighbor. Entities in Iran are accused of contributing to the suppression of protesters, lending a hand to the chaos.

The light at the end of the tunnel is the international community

Among others, the United States has condemned the atrocities and wrongdoings by many in the Iraqi government and has encouraged reform and legitimate elections. International Monetary Fund officials have been pressuring Iraqi statesmen to solve these problems instead of trying to force them out of sight.

What it boils down to is that keeping abreast of such events can be a life or death situation if you plan on being in the heart of them. Wherever you decide to travel to, do research before purchasing the plane tickets.

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