As the Peshmerga triumphantly routed Islamic State (IS) from Sinjar, in an operation personally overseen by Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani, the process of healing for the Yezidi community can finally begin.
Sinjar symbolized the terror of IS as they swept through large swathes of Iraq and committed genocide against the Yezidi population that will forever taint hearts and minds in this region.
Whilst the rubble strewn buildings across the town after months of coalition airstrikes and fighting can be somewhat rebuilt, the mental and emotional scarring as thousands of Yezidis were systemically killed, thousands of girls were raped and enslaved and thousands more had to flee from their ancient homes, will take much longer to heal.
The recapture of Sinjar means that the strategic route for IS between Raqqa in Syria and Mosul is effectively cut off.
But while this operation was long-time coming and should be rightly celebrated, jubilation should not let Kurds take their eyes off the bigger picture.
IS remains very much a threat across Iraq and Kurdistan still shares a large border and frontline with the militants. As the events since the summer of 2014 highlight, IS is not a force that can be easily defeated without sheer determination, patience and a broad alliance.
The battle for Sinjar and the greater battle against IS is not a distant battle and confined to borders of Iraq and Syria. The West was too slow to acknowledge the wider implications of the IS avalanche that first started in Syria and the problem is very much on their doorstep.
If the West needed any reminder of the terror on their doorstep, then the deadly shootings and bombings across Paris on Friday night, just hours after the liberation of Sinjar, is a stark reminder that the battle against IS that is spearhead by Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq is very much their problem and their battle.
The brazen attacks across the French capital that killed 127 people and injured over 100 were seemingly planned for months. The fear and terror was not limited to ordinary citizens as German and French football players, involved in a friendly in Stade de France, as well as French President Francois Hollande who was inside the stadium were yards away from the bombings.
Hollande held IS responsible for an ‘act of war’ and vowed to would wage a “merciless” fight against terrorism. The first national state of emergency in France since World War Two tells its own story.
Terror attacks in Paris come shortly after a Russian airliner was downed by a deadly bomb in Egypt highlighting the multi-continent angle of this battle.
Fighting terror on Western capitals is one thing but fighting terror at the root is another. Kurdish gains in Syria, ironically viewed with caution by Turkey, or the Kurdish gains in Iraq such that in Sinjar, are battles the Kurds are fighting on behalf of their population as well as the entire West.
First Published: Kurdish Globe
Other Publication Sources: Various Misc