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ISIS Has Shifted Into Second Gear

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Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

For those who have not being paying attention, the great Jihad is continuing but with the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), it has finally shifted into second gear. By now it should be evident to anyone but the most callow and most blinkered of us that there is an ideologically-driven evil loose on the world.

At this very moment, its targets are the remaining Christians of the Middle East, the Yezidis of Iraq, and the long-suffering Kurds; while its proxies and partners are dealing with such diverse elements as Nigerian schoolgirls and Israelis living within artillery rocket range of the Gaza Strip. However, the rest of us will get our turn soon enough.

ISIS is also known as ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) or Daesh -- an acronym based on Dawlet al-Islāmiyya Irāq Shām which translates to more or less the same thing. ISIS also inherits the names of more than a dozen other terrorist groups that have operated in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon over the last dozen years. It is derived from al-Qaeda and from the Muslim Brotherhood/Salafist axis beyond that.

The Kurds of the Iraqi Kurdistan face extreme violence from Daesh. In Sara Akrami's recent interview with Ali Javanmardi, Voice of America's Kurdish journalist, Javanmardi states that "the creation of Daesh is due to suppression and discrimination against the Sunni Kurds by the Shia based government in Baghdad." According to Javanmardi, when it comes to the Kurdish issue and Kurdistan, the majority of the Kurds are Sunni. However, most Iraqi Kurdish political parties and politicians is to focus on the Kurdish national issue rather than religious issues. The Kurdish society does not accept the Islamic fundamentalism. Furthermore, the Kurds in Iran support the creation of Iraqi Kurdistan and they are not in favour of an Islamic caliphate government or Taliban."

Javanmardi also adds that "the Kurds of Iraq especially the supporters of President Masoud Barzani have a persistent goal of achieving independence. The first step toward the establishment of the state of Kurdistan is to focus on the oil industry and increase the economic independence and purchase defence weapons for possible upcoming events. Ultimately, there will be a national referendum for the Kurdish independence."

The Kurds are one of the few insurgent groups in the Middle East that have shunned the tactics of terrorism; but their Peshmerge guerrillas have stoutly resisted oppression from all directions. They have also proven to be one of the few reliable allies in Northern Iraq that Western nations can safely rely upon.

Over the last decades, we have seen the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and various other groups kill hundreds of thousands of Muslims and tens of thousands of non-Muslims in pursuit of their objectives. However, there has long been debate over ways and means to achieving these objectives. In June, 2014, ISIS claimed that the Caliphate has been restored and this makes them even more dangerous than ever before.

The rapid growth of ISIS is also a direct result of the coalition disengagement from Iraq and the muddle over a lack of a coherent strategy about dealing with the 'children' of al-Qaeda. Western nations must defend our own interests by engaging ISIS partisans before they kill millions of people and spread even more war in all directions. Coming to the immediate aid of the Kurds would make excellence sense.

Finally, it is time to act. There are people who need water, food, shelter and arms. We should also be unstinting about providing close-air support, a safe refuge, and training. Furthermore, it is time that the international community especially the United States should start taking action about solving the ongoing Kurdish issue. The Kurds of Iraq are already a de facto nation and the reliable base we need to protect ourselves by engaging ISIS while it is still confined to one region. Recognizing what is already real might be a fitting reward for true allies.

Special thanks to Ali Javanmardi, Journalist at Voice of America.

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