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.