My school, King Edward VI, has the honour of being in partnership with a school in Kurdistan.
The Kurds enjoyed a period of peace after the end of Saddam’s regime, and two years ago some students from Bury went out there to experience the area themselves. The people they visited are now sheltering in their homes from the Islamic State.
The actions of IS are a deliberate and barbaric provocation of the West, in an attempt not just to take over large areas in Iraq and Syria, but to show the dominance of radical Islam to the world. But the sort of intense evil that we witness on our televisions is not organic. That level of violence – the level which even Al Qaeda opposes – does not come about just because of some people with radical ideas.
The problem in the Middle East is the result of decades of oppression and struggle between warring groups of Islam and national governments. The 2003 invasion by the UK and US served to topple Saddam, but also stir up tensions even more in the long term. Iraq went from being a stable country with a tyrannical leader, to conflict, and finally to a mess of war and suffering for Iraqi people.
It is partially because of our intervention that Iraqis are facing the most severe threat to their country this century. Bombing Islamic State might kill some of their members, but it also blasts apart further the ruins of the political system which we managed to destroy. If we want to help people in the Middle East – and we should, because we owe it to them – we need to support our troops to go there and fight alongside those people on the ground. The kids we saw with our students in 2012 are now at risk. We shouldn’t accept that.
-- Tony is editor of the Sixth Form Journal at King Edward VI School – see the latest stories at www.thesixthformjournal.com.