As various Kurdish and Iraqi forces continue to fight the Islamic State (IS) forces in northern Iraq there is one fundamental thing which need not be forgotten about this conflict and this fight. On every level it is one for the preservation of Iraq’s secular society. Imperfect as it is in many regards.
While many outlets and pundits are providing us with important and up-to-date information on the minutia of the military fight against IS it is important to remember what this group is out to achieve. What it detests and what it is seeking to dismantle. That is clearly Iraq’s society given its relatively secular nature and make-up.
In fact the new human rights chief of the United Nations, the Jordanian royal family’s Prince Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, recently summed up very aptly the secular nature of the territory which conforms to modern day Iraq when she lamented the assault on Christian, Turkoman’s and Yazidi communities amongst others when she reminded us that, “These communities have lived side by side, on the same soil, for centuries and in some cases for millennia.”
The great test that is time demonstrates conclusively that Islamic States’ assault on Iraq is in order to dismantle and eradicate that secular society. The very existence of which, not just the state but the very multi-ethnic, multi-denominational nature of the society, to them constitutes an extremely irritating thorn in the very heart of the territory which they envisage as being part of a future sectarian and theocratic caliphate.
The territory on which sits the modern polity of Iraq was of course historically known as the Cradle of Civilization. And the bedrock of civilization is a democratic and secular society. Iraq’s isn’t perfect but it certainly is worth defending and fighting for. The international community has everything to win in defending the fundamental rudiments of such a society and everything to lose by sitting on the sidelines while it struggles for its life.
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