It would be an utter tragedy if we did not defend the Kurds

My old friend the Kurdish journalist Hazhir Teimourian used to tell me sorrowfully: “There is an old proverb – a Kurd has no friends.” I am not sure that is true any more. In the aftermath of the first Gulf war in 1991 the Kurds were driven into the mountains by the vengeful troops of Saddam. The people of Britain were appalled by their misery. John Major was so moved that he set up the no-fly zones that were the precursor to the modern state.

In the last few years the links between Britain and Kurdistan have been developing fast, with the first ministerial delegation from London arriving there two years ago. Standard Chartered Bank has established there, as well as many other firms. They are going not simply because Kurdistan has theoretically the sixth largest oil deposits in the world, but because the place is an oasis of stability and tolerance. They have a democratic system; they are pushing forward with women’s rights; they insist on complete mutual respect of all religions.

It would be an utter tragedy if we did not do everything in our power to give succour and relief to those who are now facing massacre and persecution, and to help repel the maniacs from one of the few bright spots in the Middle East.