Sunday, January 03, 2016

Canada's Role In Iraq And Syria

                                             http://blogs.vancouversun.com/

The Conservatives -- and the Right Wing Media -- accuse Justin Trudeau of cowardice for withdrawing from the bombing mission in Iraq and Syria. But Errol Mendes writes that, in the war against Deash -- which means "those who crush something underfoot" -- much more than air strikes will win the day:

The ultimate victory against Daesh will be accomplished not only by formal military means but also by the civilized world developing an effective counter–narrative, and through the political settlement of justified anger against corrupt and oppressive governments both in Iraq and Syria.

The fight against Daesh in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere will be a very long one, involving a global Islamic-led counter-narrative and a regionwide political settlement combining diplomacy and the possible constitutional autonomy of the region’s different ethnicities and religions — to stem Daesh’s recruitment efforts and to convince local Sunni populations now supporting the extremists to turn against them. Ultimately, what these local tribal populations do in turning against Daesh will have a far more sustainable impact than airstrikes.


 Mendes believes that we should focus our efforts on Jordan:

Jordan may be the lynchpin — and the weak point in the anti-Daesh alliance. Jordan now shelters more than 630,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq, a humanitarian burden it may not be in a position to bear permanently while also struggling to keep extremists away from its borders. It’s critical that our military, development and humanitarian resources work together to help stabilize a treasured but fragile ally in the troubled region. Such resources could include technical assistance in policing, judicial training and support to help Jordan prevent Daesh terrorism from undermining its own stability. All coalition partners must ramp up development and humanitarian aid in the provision of health, food and educational assistance to the massive refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Education and skills training for youth in those camps could offer them a future away from the ranks of Daesh.

Jordan’s plight suggests a different, more constructive role for Canada: We are helping — and should continue to help — Jordan with its refugee burden while also supporting the work of its intelligence agencies in undermining Daesh among the region’s Sunni populations. That assistance should be combined with supplying the Kurds with the weapons and materiel they need — especially the Milan anti-tank weapon desperately needed to stop devastating Daesh suicide attacks. Greatly enlarging the number of Special Forces in the area could make the Kurds and Sunni Iraqi forces more effective against Daesh. If such assistance allowed these forces to gain more territory, Canada would end up contributing more to the coalition’s work than it is now through the effective but limited efforts of the CF-18s.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan was recently on the ground in Iraq, taking the lay of the land. He has first hand experience in the Middle East. It will be interesting to see what ideas he brings back to Mr. Trudeau.


18 comments:

Rural said...

I dont know what the long term solution is to this mess Owen, I simply think that participating in a war where no one can tell friend from foe, in the air or on the ground, is a disaster waiting to happen.

Owen Gray said...

That has always been the problem in the Middle East, Rural. But that really is one of the central problems of life -- differentiating between the good guys and the bad guys. That's why it's so important to have smart advisers. I get the impression that Sajjan is one such adviser.

Anonymous said...

Toronto wins the Stanley Cup . . . etc. Wishful thinking will not change what looks to me to be a pack of wild dogs running loose. No way to turn a fire hose on them and run them off . . .

. . .

That and climate change - and death and taxes - life goes on. laugh

j a m e s

Owen Gray said...

I know you have to go back to 1967, James. But the Leafs did win the Cup.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

In 2003 Owen, Chretien said no to the US about invading Iraq, so did France. Now we are seeing the consequence of that war, terrorism. Anyone who has taken the time, knows that the US, Saudi Arabia ,Israel, Britain and France are supporting ISIS in Syria. Why would Canada, who said NO loudly about the illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq, get involved in this primarily US, British, and French war in Syria and much of the middle east including Yemen in Africa. Are we really going to assist the US in its Empire building whenever the US wants us to go to whatever country they are planning to interfere or invade. Since when did cowardice become associated with refusing to kill millions of innocent people and creating millions of refuges. This won't happen, but Canada should say NO to all of it.

thwap said...

I disagree with Mendes.

This isn't a long-term military struggle. Putin and his allies are doing a fine job of crushing these terrorists. The reason for this is because Putin the gangster wants to protect his loyal sub-gangster Assad. Shi'a Iran, Hezbollah and Iraq are assisting. Russian air-power is helping to neutralize ISIS so that the land forces of its allies can mop them up.

Assad is a corrupt, torturing dictator. But the USA and Saudi Arabia do not want to replace him with something better. As we see so clearly in the case of the US-led overthrow of Qaddafi in Libya, they want to replace him with something worse.

The 1/4-1/2 million dead, the millions of refugees, all of it, ALL OF IT, is ultimately the fault of Barack Obama and his insane advisers. ALL OF IT.

Assad would have gone on with his retail torture and theft. He was quite willing to do it in the service of the West. But Washington and Riyadh want to destabilize the whole region, so they sent in their terrorist mercenaries.

I'm no fan of Putin but since neither the US, the Canadian, or any European peace movement can put a stop to Washington's imperialist rampages, Russian airpower and its allies troops are the best means of ending the Syrian conflict.

Owen Gray said...

I agree that the source of the problem is American foreign policy, thwap. But it goes back to Bush and Cheney. They created Daesh. Obama has been saddled with the consequences of their folly. And, unfortunately, he cannot simply walk away and declare victory.

The problem is -- as Vietnam should have proved -- you can't carpet bomb your way to victory. Mendes is simply repeating that truth.

Owen Gray said...

Just as Obama has been saddled with Bush and Cheney's folly, Pam, Trudeau has been saddled with Stephen Harper's folly. Extricating Canada from Harper's mess is not going to be a simple matter of walking away.

The problem is what it has always been -- making the change on the ground local. Getting there is not going to be easy.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

I disagree. Canada can and should say No period. Yes we have been saddled with Harpers folly, it does not mean we have to continue with it, including making the change on the ground. Implement humanitarian policies yes. GAWD knows they are sorely needed. Go back to being an honest broker. Become experts at negotiating including with the US.I agree with thwap that Russia militarily is the best means of ending the Syrian conflict.Which one has to ask why hasn't the US and their allies stopped ISIS in Syria. Because they don't want to! They have amongst other things been using them too try to unseat Assad. Canada must know this. Once again, Canada is just contributing to US imperial slaughters. It's like following and supporting a psychopath. Our focus should be on the victims of that psychopath. We have blood on our hands and will have more if we continue. We need to have the guts to say No to any involvement with the US's insane empire expansion.

Owen Gray said...

It would have been better if we had implemented humanitarian policies, Pam. And it would have better if we had kept our role as an honest broker. It's easy getting into a war. It's much harder getting out once you're in. Chretien knew that. Harper didn't.

Anonymous said...

As soon as I read someone calling Putin names over the Syrian situation, I know they haven't read much about what's going on, and are just repeating the standard US propaganda line. Sorry, but that's the way it is.

There's a great summary of the situation on progressivebloggers today:

https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/slouching-toward-global-disaster

And if you need more detail, then go to this US website:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/

Not all of it is wonderfully written, but after a few weeks wrapping your head in the information, you start to get a grasp of what's happening. Putin, I'd say is far more direct and believable than the US, which has been spectacularly useless fighting Daesh for a reason. It wants ISIS and the "moderate" rebels to beat Assad for them by proxy. Saudi Arabia funds ISIS openly without the US stopping them. Then you have the raving lunatic president of Turkey whose brother ships oil out of Northern Syria held by ISIS, pays them, trucks it to Turkey and sells it to Israel. He's Harper Full Strength, and a grasping soul as well.

You can read all this in the Guardian, if you don't want to read dissenting US views on infoformationclearinghouse.

I find my fellow Canadians highly uninformed as to what's going on in the Middle East, and just have to shake my head at some of the rubbish I read, which like the pathetic briefing Trudeau got (as reported by CP) is just diluted official US propaganda.

We should clear out of the area at once and completely. We have no reason whatsoever to be there beyond being co-opted by the US via NATO.

BM

Owen Gray said...

We should have never gotten in in the first place, BM. But I repeat, it's not as simple as declaring victory and going home.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

I agree it's hard getting out of a war, but I don,t think we are in too deep to now get out. I think what may be harder is Canada not going along with the US's propaganda about Russia. I'm afraid I think that Trudeau will go along with the false myth that Russia is the agressor in Ukraine. I also think we will go along with blindly supporting Israel. Just judging by what Trudeau has said in his year end interviews. Interesting enough I think the US does not really care if Canada supports them in their military forays. They care much more about Canada signing the TPP. The TPP like other "trade deals" is one of the tools and an important one to the US's global Neoliberal control. If Canada says no to giving our sovereignty over to corporate rule, then Trudeau will feel the full weight of the US. After all the control of countries markets of capital, labour and resources, without having to occupy countries is the essential strategy of the US's expanding empire.The state dinner in March for Trudeau, is precisely, I think to make sure Canada does sign. In other countries , citizens who have tried to rid of their corrupt governments and their Neoliberal backers, have been met with extreme violence backed by the Neoliberal supporters. What would happen if Canada said no to the US's Neoliberal agenda? I don't envy Trudeau.This is something he has definitely inherited from Harper, including Harper's own Neoliberal agenda. Who will end up controlling Canada? As I said, I do not envy Trudeau, I know what he is up against.

Owen Gray said...

Trudeau faces many tests, Pam -- in the Middle East and with the TPP. I agree he's in a tight spot. Let's hope that he can channel his father when he needs to. His decisions will have far reaching consequences.

The Mound of Sound said...

I find professor Mendes' account more than a tad incoherent, Owen. He seems oblivious to the role being played in the ISIS insurgency by the Saudis and the Gulf State sheikhs, emirs and princes. As for Turkey, Erdogan is a dead end incarnate. This sorry business has devolved into a confusion of wheels spinning within wheels.

We first need to figure out whether this Sunni war in Iraq and Syria is the precursor to a pan-Muslim theocratic civil war pitting the powerful Sunni states against Shiite Islam. Our supposed Sunni allies, especially the Saudis, have paid lip service to the war against ISIS, dropping a few bombs and then buggering off to rain carnage down on the Houthi in Yemen. Now, after the execution of Shia cleric Nmir, the Saudis have broken diplomatic relations with Iran. That will hardly give them any incentive to sever their support for Sunni Islamist radicals like ISIS.

Save for the Kurds we really don't have any friends in the Middle East, at least none that are remotely trustworthy. I think the West is just being played by the House of Saud as we've never been played before. It's ironic that we're now at the centennial of Sykes-Picot, that led to the treaties of Sevres and Lausanne. What's happening today has been a hundred years in the making and we still don't get it. It's only when you connect the dots that it becomes obvious how futile the current war really is.

Owen Gray said...

The severing of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran puts things on another plain, Mound. It's best now to proceed with extreme caution. As you say, we have no friends there.

Steve said...

A Lord of the Rings type Book with Gullivers Travels sentiments made into a movie is what the Middle East needs. A narrative that shows them the Emperour has no clothes.

Owen Gray said...

Unfortunately, Steve, people seem to be blinded by all those robes -- even in the heat.