Dutch Kurds feared headed to Iraq

Kurdish organizations fear a rise in the number of Dutch Kurds traveling to Iraq to fight against jihadist insurgents there. This makes the number of Dutch nationals fighting against each other for different allegiances greater, the Algemeen Dagblad reports. 

These Dutch Kurds traveling to Iraq to fight voluntarily will not be criminally prosecuted in The Netherlands, according to the Public Prosecution Authority (OM). 'Polder-jihadists', on the other hand, Dutch people traveling abroad to join terrorist plots, can be prosecuted.

"If you see what is happening in Iraq, you can't just sit still", says Zana Jabbari, president of the Kurdish Student Council in The Netherlands. Jabbari understands and predicts more and more Dutch Kurds will now travel to the region to join the Peshmerga army.

'Peshmerga' translates to 'those who confront death'. It is an army fighting for independence of Kurdistan. Kurds in Iraq are suffering under the growth of terrorist organization IS, who is killing ethnic and religious groups in the area.

Dutch people with interests lying in the conflict region are found not only to be fighting for the side of IS, then, but also Kurds in the Peshmerga army, and not only in Iraq, but also in Syria, according to Egid Korkmaz of the Federation of Kurds in The Netherlands. In the two regions, the Kurds are fighting for their Kurdish territory. The Algemeen Dagblad writes that the exact numbers of Dutch fighters in the region are unclear.

To make it even more certain that Dutch nationals will confront each other on the battle-field, the AD writes that polder-jihadists not only fight for IS in Syria, but also for the radical group Jabhat al-Nusra.

"We have not seen this before", Peter Knoope of the INternational Center for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague tells the AD. He finds it "bizarre" and "sad" that Dutch people come face to face with each other at opposite sides of the struggle in different places overseas.

"What plays out abroad, has an effect here as well", Knoope says. The AD writes that conflicts fought abroad develop into tensions in The Netherlands has its place in history as well, just as it may be happening now. The Kurdish PKK was held responsible for a series of attacks on a Turkish-Islamic foundation in The Hague in 2012.

For Korkmaz of the Federation of Kurds in The Netherlands, fighting each other in Iraq is not the right step. "I can understand that some pick up weapons, but we are pleading for the enforcement of international humanitarian action from The Netherlands." According to Korkmaz, this is the only way to prevent the departure of Dutch Kurds.