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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The road to Basra is paved with air-conditioning

The road to Basra is paved with air-conditioning

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Editor's note: The latest offering from the mysterious, ever-enthusiastic, and

indefatigable Sheikh Ya'erbuti, the Post's Kuwaiti correspondent. In this issue:

hotel-hopping in Kuwait City, getting embedded with the US military, and an update

on Waqil's liquor-brewing tactics.

SOLD OUT: The elusive Sheikh snapped in Kuwait City (spot the tower behind his left shoulder) with a copy of the best-selling PPP describing Januaryís anti-Thai riots.

The US military has pleased the war-groupies in Kuwait and signaled that conflict

with Iraq is just around the corner by announcing its embed policy. However it has

thoroughly ticked-off others by moving Thursday's media briefing - the two o'clock

follies - out of the Sheraton and into the Hilton Hotel.

Colonel Rick Thomas, who is not allowed to be quoted, declared the policy at his

regular follies. Ricky's friends said this type of embed assignment is unheard of

since the D-Day Normandy Invasion of 1944, when reporters were permanently assigned,

or put in bed, with US military units for life.

Since then temporary assignments have become standard fare, from Korea and Vietnam

to Afghanistan, where journalists have always had the option of opting out and going

back to the tea rooms.

Not any more. Once a correspondent is shacked-up with a unit, that journalist can

consider themselves a soldier/reporter with that unit for life. And Ricky will frown

on anyone wanting to go home early - that's desertion. Snubbing victory parades is

also a big no-no.

A nicer touch is that all embedded reporters will receive a big, shiny badge indicating

their unit, which the hardened hacks agree is a welcome accessory to the gas masks

and the nuclear, chemical and biological suits.

Unconfirmed rumors at this late hour speak of two journalists who have decided to

skirt the embed policy by borrowing a pantomime camel from an amateur dramatics club

somewhere in Europe. Their plan is to sneak across the border in their cunning disguise,

and arrive in Baghdad ahead of the rest of the press corps.

But back to the change of hotel venue. Ricky's friends said he, among others, decided

the Sheraton was not so safe, as its front and back side are rather exposed and offer

those nasty terrorists unfettered access for their shoddy designs.

So everyone had to move.

Tea time, served by my subversive friend Waqil, just won't be the same. The Hilton

does have an impressive beach but holds all the charm of a headquarters occupied

by a 1990s software company.

However it shouldn't prove stressful for too long. Yours truly has booked rooms,

a penthouse pour moi and a broom closet for Waqil and his still, at Baghdad's charming

al-Rashid Hotel from mid-March.

Alas, some still think the prospect of war is a fallacy.

Ricky is not allowed to talk about such matters, but speculators at the Kuwait Stock

Exchange are under no such restrictions. According to one insider the US military

has ordered 4,000 air-conditioners to be delivered to Basra in southern Iraq by mid-April.

Who knows? Not the hacks, that's for sure. But just in case the stock exchange gurus

are right, I have ensured that my camel is packed and ready to roll. Until the next

time, dear readers, my very best wishes to all. S.Y.

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