We, the Laureates of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, are urgently calling on the US and UK government, and others considering joining military action, to immediately halt the expansion of airstrikes into Iraq and Syria in the fight against ISIS/ISIL.
US troops left Iraqi soil only three years ago. Now, as then, a military strategy cannot succeed in bringing peace to a region that has for far too long only known war, destruction and human rights violations. President Obama knows that. He has said himself that “there is no military solution.” An ideology cannot be defeated with military might.
We have to stop imagining that military interventions are the shortcut to peace. War leads to violence, poverty, sectarianism, and ultimately extremism. ISIS/ISIL is a product of the last military intervention in the region, and it will only be strengthened should we continue to fight violence with violence.
The way forward is a political solution. First and foremost, what is needed is a rapid expansion of international humanitarian assistance for those suffering from the crisis and terror brought on by ISIS/ISIL, with particular attention to the needs of women. Secondly, the US and its allies must stop flooding the region with arms that are used against civilians. Thirdly, a broad diplomatic effort must be made to ensure that the human rights of the people in Syria and Iraq are met.
Women are key to ending this crisis. They have suffered unimaginable acts of terror at the hands of ISIS/ISIL. But it is also the women who are leading the humanitarian response providing food, water and medical care to those in need. We must ensure that women’s rights, needs and inclusion remain front and center during any intervention.
A political solution is tangible, sustainable and spares lives and livelihoods. Let us not succumb to quick fix military strategies that have proven ineffective in the past and leave a trail of suffering and violence. We can do better than that.