Many European countries have announced their support for the Kurdistan Region in its fight against the Islamic State. European foreign ministers and high-level politicians arrive in Erbil one after another, pledging arms and military support for the Peshmerga.
It is great that the Kurds receive such world attention as they try to drive Islamic extremists out of their land. But we should remember that the West isn’t helping the Kurds because they believe in the Kurdish cause: they are interested in this war because they fear it may one day knock on their own doors.
European leaders seem to have finally woken up to the threat of the Islamic State. They know that the radical jihadis in Syria and Iraq have a migratory nature and every few years move from one country to another. Now, Europe wants to fight them while they are concentrated in Mosul and Raqqah.
But they are hoping to use the Kurds to do the fighting. They are not sending their own soldiers and they don’t have the expertise to fight jihadi groups. On the other hand, the Kurds have both the expertise and the will to fight, because their land is occupied. Therefore it sounds like an ideal situation for the West.
But the Kurds should be careful and not become a free agent. They can be grateful for any weapons or support they may receive, but they should also have their own agenda -- and stick to it.
The war against Islamist militants should only be to drive them out of the Kurdish land. Kurdish Peshmerga forces should stop where Kurdistan’s border ends. The Islamic State cannot be destroyed easily and it is not Kurdistan’s responsibility to do so.
It is an Iraqi problem and therefore Baghdad’s responsibility to sort it out. If the world wants to eradicate this radical group, they should go and talk to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and other Arab countries about it.
If Europe is serious about fighting Islamic extremists they should also fight them in their own countries. They can’t expect the Kurds to hunt down Islamist militants in Iraq, while they let them live freely in Amsterdam, London, Paris and Stockholm.
There are probably more jihadis and certainly more supporters of the Islamic State in Europe and North America than in Mosul. You can see them everywhere and everyday. They demonstrate in European capitals, waving the black flag, wearing the same beard and same jihadi outfit.
Extremists in Europe fight with the police without fear. They preach anti-Jewish, anti-Christian and anti-Western slogans in their mosques and schools and they wish the destruction of the countries they live in. They even beat up anyone who may criticize the Islamic State.
They are allowed to do all this in the name of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
When Europe starts to crack down on these groups at home, closes down their schools and restricts their freedom of speech, then they can ask the Kurds to fight them in Mosul and Jalawla.
It is true that now the Kurds and the West have a common enemy. But the Kurds have more at stake than the West. Islamic extremists have been targeting Kurdish cities for many years and they will be Kurdistan’s neighbors forever.
So this Kurdish-West alliance must bring something greater for the Kurds than just fighting jihadis. If this is the war of independence and the prize is a Kurdish state, then the Peshmerga can even go and fight the Islamic State in the heart of Mosul and Tikrit. But if the Kurds are only expected to act as hitmen, then the Peshmerga should stop at Kurdistan’s borders and not go a step further.