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Every nation needs a capital: how Erbil turned itself Kurdish

Alexander Dziadosz writes for The Guardian:

The citadel in Erbil can lay claim to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited place on Earth. But towering over the old mud-brick structures, one recent addition on the hilltop stands out: a brand new gate.

The gate was built to replace another thrown up by Saddam Hussein, just one in a long line of different rulers – from the Assyrians to the Mongols to the Ottomans – who have incorporated Erbil into their empires. But since Saddam’s fall in 2003, a clear identity has come to dominate the city’s public spaces: Kurdish.

Since 2006, Kurdish authorities have been working to renovate the citadel, which was badly neglected under Saddam. As well as shoring up the crumbling homes and clearing out squatters, they have also scrubbed away any sign of the former dictator, whose traces they are eager to erase.

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