The Unexpected Benefit of Sacrifice
While the attacks of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on the Kurdish people have brought economic hardship and loss felt by many, an unexpected longterm advantage has come of it: significant recognition and respect for the Kurdish people has echoed throughout the media outlets of the world.
Newspaper headlines across Europe and the Americas testify of the Peshmerga’s defense of their people’s liberty. Television channels broadcast updates from the Kurdish capital of Erbil, speaking plainly of the religious tolerance the Kurds have managed for themselves in a region plagued with ethnic violence and discrimination. Daily, websites and social media relay the honorable hopes of the Kurdish people.
Without question, the events of the past six months have stirred more international press for Kurdish issues than during any period in recent history—perhaps only rivaled by the time surrounding the 1991 uprisings and subsequent refugee crisis. As the Kurdish story goes into the world, with it comes recognition of Kurd- ish aspirations for greater autonomy and partnership with established governments and economies.
The Kurdish people have sacrificed greatly through conflict with ISIL. Caring for 1.4 million displaced people amidst one of the worst refugees crises in our modern era is no small feat. Yet this sacrifice does not go unnoticed among the developed democracies of the world who are beginning to recognize that Kurdistan is joining their ranks as a significant partner. Dozens of nations have begun providing aid and military training for the Kurds while embassies and consulates continue to open in Erbil.
While the world watches, waiting to see what unfolds in the conflict between ISIL and an international coalition, the name of Kurdistan arises as a bulwark of religious freedom and as a defender of democracy in the region, and, in fact, the whole world. As German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said recently of the Peshmerga, “[they] are not just defending their country, they are also defending all of us . . . .”