Restau­rant spells out Kur­dish hopes for pres­i­dent-elect

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By REUTERS in Duhok, Iraq

The new­est en­ter­prise bear­ing Don­ald Trump’s name is not a five-star ho­tel or an exclusive golf club. It is a restau­rant in north­ern Iraq serv­ing fire-roasted carp for $10 a kilo which the United States pres­i­dent-elect prob­a­bly doesn’t even know ex­ists.

Trump Fish, whose logo fea­tures the busi­ness­man­turned-politi­cian’s dis­tinc­tive yel­low mane, opened about two weeks ago in the Kur­dish city of Duhok, an hour’s drive from the lat­est bat­tle against Is­lamic State mil­i­tants in Mo­sul.

Owner Ned­yar Zaw­ity says he reg­is­tered the Trump name months ago with Kur­dish au­thor­i­ties. The 31-year-old en­trepreneur in­sists the brand­ing is more about turn­ing a profit than en­dors­ing pol­i­tics, but he likes Trump’s strong per­son­al­ity and rep­u­ta­tion as a suc­cess­ful businessman.

Above all, he ap­pre­ci­ates the pres­i­dent-elect’s prom­ise to ramp up sup­port to the Kurds and their pesh­merga fight­ers, a sen­si­tive propo­si­tion in a coun­try where com­pet­ing pro-gov­ern­ment forces vie for Western back­ing.

“I per­son­ally love Trump for this,” Zaw­ity said. “The name Trump is beloved in Kur­dis­tan.”

The Kurds, op­pressed un­der suc­ces­sive Arab gov­ern­ments in Iraq, are per­haps the big­gest vic­tors of the new or­der born out of the US-led in­va­sion that top­pled Sad­dam Hus­sein in 2003.

While Iraqi Arabs fur­ther south have been gripped by sec­tar­ian con­flict for more than a decade, Kur­dis­tan re­mained rel­a­tively safe, en­joyed an eco­nomic boom and slowly de­vel­oped its au­ton­omy.

Trump Fish, lo­cated be­tween an ap­pli­ance shop

I per­son­ally love Trump for this. The name Trump is beloved in Kur­dis­tan.” Ned­yar Zaw­ity, owner of the Trump Fish restau­rant in north­ern Iraq

and a laun­dro­mat, has not yet turned a profit, ac­cord­ing to Zaw­ity, who runs the eatery with his three broth­ers.

The restau­rant of­fers just one dish: mas­gouf, a grilled fish farmed in lo­cal rivers and sea­soned with olive oil, pep­per, lemon and spices.

The Trump name has helped at­tract cus­tomers, ac­cord­ing to Zaw­ity, in­clud­ing Western­ers who say they don’t nec­es­sar­ily sup­port the Repub­li­can fig­ure but dine here for nov­elty’s sake.

“He is an Amer­i­can, maybe he is not my fa­vorite, but he is still Amer­i­can. So I’m happy to try a restau­rant with an Amer­i­can name with Kur­dish-Iraqi food,” said David Hirsch, a li­brar­ian at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Los An­ge­les.

Yet it has also gar­nered en­mity from some quar­ters, in­clud­ing on­line crit­ics who ac­cuse Zaw­ity of be­ing a US or Is­raeli agent and have sent him threats.

Some cus­tomers up­set with Trump’s cam­paign pledge to im­pose a tem­po­rary ban on Mus­lims en­ter­ing the US have boy­cotted the restau­rant, he said.

How­ever, Zaw­ity hopes to take his Trump car­i­ca­ture logo to the US and open an­other restau­rant there. “Give me a visa and I will go to­mor­row,” he said.

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