As I write, the immediate crisis on Mount Sinjar appears to have been resolved but the appalling scenes which have dominated our television screens in recent weeks and the graphic reports in newspapers have galvanised public opionion. One million people have been displaced since Islamic State militants took over swathes of Northern Iraq.
People demand that we do all in our power to help the Christians and the Yasidis who are being so viciously persecuted. Yesterday, the governor of Dohuk province warned of a “genocide”, as hundreds of thousands sought refuge there. This requires a realistic appraisal of the situation on the ground and of our capacity to change it.
Indeed, it was the severe disaffection of the Sunni tribes in the North of Iraq that permitted IS to make the rapid territorial gains that have stunned both the West and the governments of the region.
We in the West have little conception of the mutual hatred and contempt between these two Islamic sects.
Beyond that we need to review our attitude to the present regimes in Tehran and in Damascus – yes, Damascus. An “Islamic state” poses a major threat to the stability of the whole Middle East.
Furthermore, it establishes an area under the control of Islamic extremists which poses a threat to Britain itself.
On the contrary, they are better described as “favour for favour” societies.Democracy is empathically not the solution for extremely complex societies and Western meddling only makes matters immeasurably worse.The fundamental reason for our failure is that democracy, as we understand it, simply doesn’t work in Middle Eastern countries where family, tribe, sect and personal friendships trump the apparatus of the state.Only the Kurds can do that and, as the US and most of Europe - EU foreign ministers met in emergency session in Brussels yesterday to discuss the issue - HAVE now recognised, they must be provided with the ammunition, equipment and intelligence that they need.It is very likely that close air support will also be necessary, at least for some months but any involvement of ground troops would be a very serious mistake.
Once the immediate crisis has been addressed, we must prevent the development of the Islamic state.