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The Ruins of "Saddam's Castle": A Touch of Modern History

By: Fargo Bcn

Nechir Atroshi, a Peshmarga soldier, admiring the beautiful scenery of the snow-capped mountains while on duty- stationed at the Gara Mountain, a suburb area of Duhok, South Kurdistan (Iraq).

(Photos taken on February 11, 2021) "No friend but the mountains" is a famous Kurdish proverb expressed to signify their feeling of betrayal, abandonment, and loneliness due to their history as a semi-stateless ethnic minority in the Middle East without faithful allies. The Kurds have suffered throughout history. They have suffered from genocide, massacres, assimilation, from being subject to sacrifices in the name of Global politics, while all along, all they have wanted is to be recognized as a nation and their identity. As a non-Kurd, I have my utmost deep respect for their culture, language, and most especially to the Kurdish people who embraced me and treats me as one among them.

In the late springtime of 2018, I was exactly in the same area with my Peshmarga friends. As I stood on top of the Gâre Mountain in southern Kurdistan, my eyes can extend as far as they could reach. With a delightful climate, I gazed with amazement at the sight of the most interesting and accessible mountain ranges before my eyes. From this land of rivers, the land of waterfalls, the land of ancient chants, and the land of mountains is the place of refuge where the Kurds would run to the mountains to escape the warplanes, the bombs and found asylum within their chestnut forests.

The above photos were taken during my visit to Kurdistan in the springtime, on May 13, 2018.

My two weeks visit allowed me to explore interesting places that marked the history of the Iraq civil war but most especially to the Kurdish people, who isolated themselves and fought for their independence against the dictatorial rule of Saddam Hussein. Famous as its name, "Saddam's Castle" is located at the Gāra Mountain, which can be found in the suburb area of Duhok, Iraq. It's overlooking the town of Solav, Ashawa, Aneshki, and Bamerni. Saddam Hussein was known to enjoy this area and built a pleasure palace on this mountain. The unfinished bunker close to the castle down to the cave is evident to this day. It is now in ruins, and it serves as a shell of its former glory but is still worth a visit to appreciate the touch of modern history.

Lucky me that I was accompanied by two excellent Peshmerga soldiers that I could enter the vicinity. The place serves now as a radio radar station of the Peshmerga army in South Kurdistan. It was a privilege to see the vast and grandeur mountain view and breathtaking scenery around - overlooking Sersink. To be present in that moment where I can be at peace. To remember the souls of all the martyrs and civilians who have sacrificed their lives and fought for their independence. And so their story continues until they'll gain their freedom.


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