7 Aug 2014

Fear is key in the Islamic State’s purge of Iraq

So whilst we were all looking intently at Gaza….

The push towards the Caliphate across northern Iraq, Syria and Kurdistan gained yet more momentum. Specifically the ever-social-media-attuned Islamic State (IS) claim to have taken the strategically important Mosul Dam – a vast piece of Saddam-era civil engineering.

The Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are strung out across a huge front now. Under-funded and under-equipped.

All this has, in the past few days, taken a terrible toll upon two minority religious groups in the area.

The Yazidi were sun-worshippers for three thousand years before the coming of Abraham and once had numbers over a million worshippers in this region. Today after attempted genocides from all sides it seems, there are around 100,000. Right now they are fleeing from the hills, particularly around town town, Sinjar.

Thousands flee Iraq's Sinjar

They knew the IS fighters were coming. They know the Sunni militia regard these people as devil worshippers and they guessed how that would go.

The fear has come from across the region. From Christians too who fled the IS purges as they took over Mosul – the biggest strategic gain yet for IS.

And fear is the key. Regardless of what IS may or may not do to those holding differing cultures, values and religions from their brand of Islam – it is the fear that is the IS’s most potent weapon in many respects.

Outgunned the Peshmerga have fled from town after town, village after village. What else can they do in a world which expresses concern but does little more.

Watch: Thousands of minority Iraqis marooned on mountain – video

Gone – long, long gone are the cold wet spring days in the mountains of Kurdistan when the west came to the aid of the religious minorities here to protect them from the goons of Saddam Hussein.

Irony upon irony – these same peoples now stand threatened by gunmen who are beyond al-Qaeda in many respects in their hatred of the West and its values.

Yet again these fighters who have a real issue with the West we stand more or less powerless. Rabbits in the headlights because we feel we cannot intervene any more.

And why? Because the disastrous interventions into Iraq and Afghanistan have seen to that. Iraq – where under Saddam there was no such thing as al-Qaeda. After the failed Western intervention we now have the most successful al-Qaeda franchise yet in IS, seizing towns, land, villages and now it seems a major dam.. Indeed. they are considered beyond AQ because of their degree of intolerance.

But no haven exists for those who flee their gunmen. And none looks likely to come about any time soon.

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