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article imageOp-Ed: Why helping Iraq is the right thing to do

By Paul Iddon     Aug 21, 2014 in Politics
Iraq has been facing dire threats to its security and territorial integrity. Given the situation it's important to evaluate why Iraq is fundamentally worth helping.
It has been a long hot summer in Iraq. Last June saw to the vicious “Islamic State” group exploit a politically weak and corrupt Iraqi government that was unable to function effectively to confront that group as it rapidly seized large chunks of the northern Nineveh province. While the Kurds were able to compromise and hamper some of that groups advances the situation in Iraq clearly necessitated a humanitarian intervention in that area in order to alleviate the harsh conditions faced by Iraqi minorities displaced by Islamic States' savage rampaging sectarian onslaught.
In Mount Sinjar we saw rather depressing images of tens-of-thousands of members of the Yazidi community fleeing en-masse and being faced with the prospect of being besieged and perishing on the unforgivably harsh dry and open mountainous terrain. Thankfully a successful humanitarian and military intervention by the U.S. and Britain has for now alleviated that potentially horrific outcome.
But at the same time Islamic State remains entrenched in Mosul and in other parts of Northern Iraq. Furthermore the displacement of tens-of-thousands in that Iraqi province will continue to pose a humanitarian burden for the foreseeable future. But Islamic State are being confronted and Iraq is taking steps to reform its governmental and state institutions which were paralyzed by Maliki's unproductive marginalization of both Sunni Arab and Kurdish minorities. His stepping down in a time of crisis, at the behest of Iran, the Iraqi Shia clergy's most influential cleric (the one and only Ayatollah Sistani) and of course the United States, to make way for a more conciliatory figure, in the form of Haider al-Abadi, is a tribute to Iraq's highly corrupt and imperfect nevertheless fundamentally democratic system. Especially given the fact that he was after all legitimately elected for this third-term as Prime Minister earlier this year.
As scandalously inert as Iraq's state institutions and military have been when it comes to combating this threat to its security and territorial integrity Iraqi societies fight against Islamic State is something Iraq cannot realistically be allowed to lose when one ponders what that would likely entail. Which is why the encouragement of reform in the Iraqi government, coupled with continued tactical military support, is a necessary and important endeavour for the international community to undertake. Islamic State not only seeks to assault and massacre Iraqi minorities, it seeks to do away with Iraq for good. A point we should not hasten to forget. This is an existential struggle between an imperfect democratic state and society and a tyrannical terrorist group.
While it is of course Iraq's duty and responsibility to confront by itself this threat to its existence and to its minorities – a more comprehensive government is needed to not only protect those minorities but also to ensure they are not completely sidelined or disenfranchised in the political process, which is of course essential if Iraq is going to remain a unified federal polity – the international community also has a moral duty to assist it in doing so. But in a relatively limited and tactical manner as this is first and foremost Iraq's fight. However in a broader sense it is also the fight of many other nations. The more gains and victories Islamic State has in Iraq the more able it will have to initiate terrorist attacks against others they despise. Be they Shia Muslims of Iraq and neighbouring Iran or the secular societies of the western world.
While Iraq takes steps to reconcile with minority groups disenchanted with Baghdad due to their disenfranchisement the international community should be steadfast when it comes to helping Iraq confront this threat. And by doing so it will be taking a general stand for the rights of ethnic and religious minorities against the barbaric forces of fundamentalist reaction the world over.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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