Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

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IRAQ: The power of sisterhood

January 22, 2008 | 10:10 am

The mayor of Al Qaim on the Iraqi side of the border with Syria has accepted an invitation from Laguna Niguel to visit as part of the sister city relationship between the two cities. For Farhan Fetekhan Farhan, it will be his first visit to America.

Laguna Niguel formed the relationship with his city as part of the Orange County suburb's attachment to the Camp Pendleton-based 1st battalion, 4th regiment. Marines of the one-four spent much of last year assigned to the Qaim area and found the mayor to be a key ally.

Laguna Niguel has sent a load of school supplies and soccer balls. The mayor said he appreciates the concern, particularly given the cold shoulder his city often receives from faraway Baghdad.

"Laguna Niguel cares more about Al Qaim than the central government in Iraq does," he said.

— Tony Perry in Al Asad, Iraq