On the Solution to ISIS in Iraq

On the Surface

Since the United States launched the War on Terror, there has been a surge in terrorist attacks, especially in occupied countries. One of the most prominent such terrorist groups is ISIS, which has taken over Iraq and Syria. While many blame Islamic fundamentalism for the existence of this group, their rapid proliferation is a result of foreign intervention in the Middle East. The solution lies in arming regional resistance groups, Kurdistan chief among them.

Intervention and the Creation of Terrorists

The 2003 American occupation of Iraq toppled Saddam Hussein’s secular state, replacing it with an overwhelmingly Shiite administration. Under the new regime, unemployment among middle-class Sunnis skyrocketed, while upper-class Sunnis were stripped of their wealth and political influence.

ISIS and many local Sunnis perceive the Shiite administration as illegally controlling Sunni territory. They fight for their own political autonomy. The reason that American troops were attacked during the occupation Iraq was because they were perceived as invaders propping up an illegitimate regime.

While both the political left and right call for military intervention against ISIS, American troops would not be received favorably, and drones will not kill idealism. Americans would be seen as foreign occupiers and would once more become a target for terrorist organizations.

The Case to Arm the Kurds

The Kurds are an ethnic group described as “the world’s largest stateless nation,” commanding a government and a military but no territory. Thus far, they have been the most successful at warding off ISIS, taking back territory from the terrorist group and cutting off ISIS’s supply lines, largely without foreign assistance. And, like ISIS, they fight for self-determination and a territory of their own.

Even during the Iraq war, the Kurds have proven steadfast allies, with President Obama remarking that “[Kurdish change] is the kind of change that we like to see.” In order to combat ISIS, the United States needs to arm Kurdistan. Fears of a fractured Iraqi state are putting the cart before the horse: without a Kurdish defeat of ISIS, there won’t be any Iraq left to save.

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