All of us have a visceral, emotional reaction to the use of chemical weapons. It repulses us... Yet there's a question that must be asked: why are we more offended by the killing of civilians with chemical weapons than we are by the slaughter of far greater numbers of civilians with conventional weapons?
The feasibility of intervention was greater two years ago. I know that there is little public appetite for it in the west but inaction has empowered the radical jihadists. This has made it harder to achieve either a political settlement or a pluralist Syria which would protect the rights of minorities such as the Kurds, the Christians and the Alawites.
Throughout the war, our governments insisted that they had a genuine humanitarian interest in bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq. To put it simply, this is a lie, and needs to be exposed as such. A brief look at the West's record in the Middle East provides all the evidence we need in order to unearth the great myth of 'humanitarian intervention' in Iraq.
Last week Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK, called for a ceasefire with the Turkish state. The announcement garnered widespread international coverage largely because the announcement was made to coincide with the Persian/Kurdish New Year and not long after the government announced it was in direct talks with Ocalan himself. But will this lead to a meaningful lasting peace?
The great achievement of post-Saddam Iraq is its transition from a centralised and mainly Sunni dominated one-party rule to federalism and power-sharing between Sunnis, Kurds and Shia, and small minorities. All this is, or should be, governed by the constitution, approved by over 80% of the people in a referendum in 2005.
The Kurdistan region is clearly thriving as the safest, most stable, and prosperous part of Iraq, with a headstart of 12 years of relative freedom from Saddam. The number of deaths through terrorism is about 200 since 2003. It has built a major energy sector from nothing in just a few years. And it has helped stabilise the rest of Iraq and could be a model for it to follow.
We are not only marking the tenth anniversary of the fall of Saddam but the 50th anniversary of the beginnings in 1963 of a campaign of demonisation of the Kurds that proceeded to full-blown genocide, most notably at Halabja where 5,000 people were killed and many more hideously injured by Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Talabani will leave behind a legacy that only a few can achieve in their lifespan. Indeed, he united both Kurds and Arabs, and devoted his life to both the Iraqi and Kurdish Cause. A good leader leads by example, and I am certain that through Mam Jalal's achievements and struggle, he has opened a box of hope for the future of both Iraq and the Kurdistan region.