12 km from Mo­sul

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - By J. Watt

I heard cheers from the guards af­ter pulling away from their check­point dur­ing a trip out­side the cap­i­tal. Af­ter I ca­su­ally chat­ted with them and thanked them for their ser­vice, my son, a one and a half year old with light blonde hair and an ever present smile, lifted his fist in the air to­wards the Kur­dish men in uni­form—a sign of sol­i­dar­ity and sup­port that was greater than any words I could of­fer that af­ter­noon.

Dur­ing the jour­ney, I was ut­terly as­tounded as my phone’s GPS app showed a de­creas­ing num­ber of kilo­me­ters to Mo­sul, one of the func­tional cap­i­tals of the Is­lamic State. We watched it tick down from 50 km, to 20 km, all the way to 12 km. We ob­vi­ously weren’t in­tend­ing on go­ing any­where near Mo­sul, but the prox­im­ity was un­real. We con­tin­ued driv­ing, our son singing hap­pily along with a chil­dren’s CD, all the while we were merely walk­ing dis­tance from per­haps the most re­pres­sive gov­ern­ing force of the 21st cen­tury—a mur­der­ous group that not only stands against the mu­sic in our car but against all the val­ues that we, and the free world, hold dear.

When you look at the safety and free­dom of move­ment within the Kur­dish re­gion, it’s a mir­a­cle of se­cu­rity that is sim­ply in­cred­i­ble. Whether you're an ex­pat or a lo- cal, I hope this isn’t lost on you. It's not to say that more doesn’t need to hap­pen. This re­gion, and the world, will not be en­tirely safe while the Is­lamic State con­tin­ues to ex­ist, but what the Kur­dish se­cu­rity forces have ac­com­plished is noth­ing short of amaz­ing. I've known this in­tel­lec­tu­ally but feel­ing com­pletely safe and pro­tected while trav­el­ing only 12 km from the Is­lamic State struck me. This didn’t just begin with IS but it is rather con­tin­u­ing from 2003 and the be­gin­ning of Amer­i­can in­volve­ment in Iraq, when not a sin­gle Amer­i­can sol­dier was lost in­side the Kur­dish re­gion.

We fin­ished our lengthy jour­ney un­touched, un­harmed, and not even wor­ried. The only ac­tion we saw was that of smil­ing check­point of­fi­cers reach­ing into my car to shake my hand—ex­cited that an Amer­i­can would choose to live here and learn to speak the Kur­dish lan­guage.

In a fast-paced po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment where many are look­ing to­wards fu­ture ac­com­plish­ments, don’t for­get to take those mo­ments, whether safely en­joy­ing a city park or 12 km from the hand of the en­emy, to pause and grasp the re­al­ity of what has al­ready been ac­com­plished by the Kur­dish se­cu­rity forces.

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