From the moment I was met at my hotel on Sulaymaniyah, I was fed into an underground ratline, a clandestine logistics network for moving people, guns, and even ideas.

The driver was a good man with good references. He was to drive me north, from Suly up into the mountains of northern Kurdistan. It was about a five hour ride by truck, my bags tossed in the back. As we drove, the driver would make calls and receive updates about checkpoints up ahead. However, my driver didn’t usually make this trip and got a little turned around in the mountains. Down in one of the gullies we drove there was a large flatbed truck, Kurdish resistance fighters filling the back with supplies destined for the font lines in Kurdish Syria which they call Rojava.

Eventually, our driver asked a couple kids playing with sticks for directions. Although I don’t speak Kurdish I think the conversation went a little like this:

“Hey, kid!”


“Where is the secret base?”

“Oh, you went right passed it. Turn back and make your first right.”

“Okay, thanks!”