John Key's Iraq trip: 5 things you need to know

  • 07/10/2015
John Key at Camp Taji
John Key at Camp Taji

A huge dust storm means the Prime Minister is unable to fly from Baghdad to Camp Taji.

The Air Force Hercules cannot land and without accommodation in Baghdad, it flies all the way back to Dubai.

The diverted flight has Mr Key's Hercules in the air for five hours. It encounters heavy fog in Dubai and pulls out just 50 feet above the runway when hit by a heavy cloud. It is successful on the next landing attempt.

Mr Key makes Camp Taji but another dust storm hits as he is leaving. The two Chinook helicopters taking his party to Baghdad are turned back. A Hercules flies Mr Key straight to Dubai without telling Iraqi immigration.

Camp Taji has a 'Mad Max' feel. It is deserted, desolate and dusty. But at 36 square kilometres, the Kiwi compound within it is far from any attacks and feels relatively safe. The 'guardian angel' close-protection officers that watch out for insider attacks have not had a single incident and the Kiwis and Iraqis appear to get along well.

John Key has kept his promise to go to Iraq, after saying he would not send troops to fight anywhere that he would not visit. Mr Key is also resolute on his promise that the Kiwis will be in Iraq for two years, despite judging Taji to be a relatively safe place, and the training of Iraq troops a success.

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