Open discussion on fighting ISIS held in Washington
The Center for Transatlantic Relations SAIS at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. hosted Mousa Ahmed Agha and Awat Mustafa of the Barzani Charity Foundation in Kurdistan for a discussion titled “Fighting ISIS: News from the Front Lines in Kurdistan.”
“We all stand united in the fight against ISIS and we cannot speak highly enough of the bravery of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, men and women, being on the front lines of the conflict,” said Dr. Sasha Toperich, Senior Fellow at the Center, who moderated the dis- cussion.
Citing the long history of tolerance of minorities and protection of human rights in the Kurdistan Region, Agha said this is one reason ISIS has focused on the region, seeking to destroy its young democracy as an example to the region.
Agha discussed the need for humanitarian and military assistance to Kurdistan in its fight against ISIS. “The tragedy of the conflict with ISIS cannot be compared to a natural disaster – it is a crime against humanity. The borderless nature of ISIS means they can attack civiliza- tion anywhere. The Peshmerga are fighting on behalf of the entire civilized World,” said Agha.
He expressed gratitude to the United States for its assistance – diplomatic, humanitarian, and military – but noted that much more must be done. “Thanks and praise are not sufficient assistance for the Peshmerga – we need hardware, weapons, and the like. Our outdated arms are not enough to defeat ISIS.” He also called on the Iraqi government to keep its budgetary promises to the Kurdistan Region to enable the Peshmerga forces to continue its fight.
The Barzani Charity Foundation is on the forefront of assisting refugees fleeing ISIS, having established 32 refugee camps in the region. “Refugees fleeing is exactly what ISIS wants. It is a form of ethnic cleansing,” said Agha, who noted that refugees should be encouraged to return and rebuild their lives as ISIS is repelled. Mustafa said that the Barzani Charity Foundation acts as a “bridge” organization to facilitate the flow of money and assistance from the West to the refugees in Kurdistan.