The world’s reluctance to enter the fight against “Daesh” (“ISIS”) shows very clearly that the word is weary of war. Granted, the most recent wars that were fought were commenced under spurious and misguided notions about the very reasons for war, but this should not deter the world from realizing the inevitable outcome. That very large homogeneous groups in the Middle East have age-old animosities should finally be recognized for what they are: reasons for groups to separate and declare independence and follow their own destinies. Nowhere is this point more salient than with the Kurds. It is estimated that there are 30 million Kurds in the world today, certainly enough for a country population to be taken seriously and yet they languish stateless between Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq.
How desperate are the Kurds to have their own state and control over their own lives is readily apparent in the fact that the Kurds of Turkey and Syria are daily standing at the border with Syria willing and wanting to go into harm’s way inside Syria to fight Daesh, even with no weapons. One man was quoted as saying he would fight with his bare hands and his knife. Against the heavy war machine of Daesh, this is akin to a suicide wish, but the Kurds are not suicidal people.
I have a very dear friend who is a Syrian Kurd. Years ago, he was imprisoned and tortured by Bashar al-Assad for his democratic activities inside Syria. After his release, I asked him why he simply didn’t take his family and leave Syria and go to Kurdistan where it is relatively safe. His remark to me was quite a revelation. “Why should we leave our homes? We have lived here for over 800 years. Tell Bashar to get out!”
The world finally took notice of the Kurds as they were being massacred inside Iraq. They mobilized to save the Yezidis, but if they think this was all that is required, they are seriously misguided. The predominantly-Kurdish town of Kobani in Syria is currently under seige. The Kurds are watching from hillsides overlooking the town as Daesh attack it for no strategic military reason whatsoever. The Kurds want to fight. They are true Westerners in their worldview, but they need more than knives to dislodge Daesh. The world has for more than four years watched the horrors of Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime kill at will and with no regard for human life, be it Sunni, Shiite or Kurd and they have done nothing to stop it. The constant bickering over who represents the Syrians in any provisional government in exile has now cost the lives of at least 200,000 Syrians and destroyed cities with cherished histories such as that of Aleppo. The Kurds should be properly armed and trained to protect what has belonged to them for centuries. This is what they are owed–their own heritage.