In a Q&A with former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Admiral James Stravidis, the first way he offered to combat ISIS was to “arm the Kurds.” The Kurds constitute a reliable regional force that is committed to counterterrorism. In mid-November the Kurds recaptured Sinjar, Iraq, claiming an IS stronghold and more importantly winning back the homes of many minorities that had been coexisting in the region, notably the Yazidis. The West has been accused of dwelling in the past when dealing with IS’s attacks. It must recognize that the playing field has been leveled by groups such as the Kurds, who, amidst sentiment to decrease foreign ground troops in Syria, diminish the need for foreign ground intervention.
Concentrating efforts on the Kurds can have greater effects. First, it may serve to increase national security in the West. The threat of terrorism leaves many EU nations unwilling to take in refugees. Yet terrorism is often homegrown. Attacks like that of Paris draw power from European natives that become committed to the IS cause due to exposure to IS, returning to EU or US soil to wreak destruction. Decreasing the number of foreign fighters that journey from the West to Syria and Iraq can decrease the likelihood of terrorist attacks. Arming the Kurds will also penetrate the Syrian Refugee Crisis at the root by staunching the flow of refugees by fighting against IS’s dominion in the Middle East.
The aftermath of IS’s reign in Sinjar has torn the fragile fabric of peace and ethnic tolerance between Yazidis and Muslims. Many Yazidis have become mistrustful of the Sunni Muslims and cannot foresee rebuilding their communities with Muslim counterparts. The struggle to rebuild cities and make them habitable for all groups will impact the status of the refugee crisis. It speaks to the importance of continuing to resist ISIS’s expansion in a proactive manner.
by Allison Huang ’17