By Scott Taylor
Last week, the Department of National Defence conducted a round of media interviews to introduce Major-General Dany Fortin as the new commander of a Canadian led training mission in Iraq. It was announced on July 11 following the NATO Leaders’ Summit that Canada would provide headquarters personnel, four Griffon helicopters and up to 250 soldiers to form the nucleus of a NATO training base near Baghdad.
This new contingent is in addition to the approximately 200 Special Forces operatives and four Griffon helicopters that are already deployed to Iraq. The original role for our special forces in Iraq was to train the Kurdish militia to combat Daesh (aka ISI or ISIL). However, once the last Daesh stronghold of Mosul was recaptured by the alliance last October, the Canadian trained Kurds embarrassingly began battling the Iraqi National Army.
The Kurds had always been honest about their intention of fighting for an independent Kurdistan. They wore the flag of Kurdistan on their uniforms and duped the Canadian trainers into wearing them on their uniforms too.
The Canadian military leadership was so naïve, that they allowed our soldiers to wear the symbol of Kurdistan, an unrecognized state within a federal Iraq. For the record, Global Affairs Canada has always maintained its full support for a unified Iraq under a central government in Baghdad. Oops.
Now we have Major-General Fortin displaying a similar degree of willful blindness or just plain ignorance as he prepares to assume his new role in Iraq.
In response to reporters questions Fortin expressed his confidence that somehow he and his NATO colleagues would be able to weed out any Iraqi war criminals, or factional zealots. “I think we have a pretty good vetting process in place to screen out those potential instructors to ensure we have quality people, that they – the Iraqi government feel confident with.” Fortin told the CBC’s Murray Brewster.
Since the U.S. invasion in 2003, Iraq has been awash in a complex, multi-factional civil war and insurgency. The U.S. spent more than a decade pouring billions of dollars into arming and training hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Security Forces.
In the summer of 2014 this American built force collapsed like a cheap suitcase under a gorrila’s foot the minute the Deash evildoers swarmed in from Syria.
A similar collapse of fighting-will happened in the fall of 2004 when Iraqi insurgents took control of the city of Mosul for more than three days. The U.S. paid and equipped Iraqis simply deserted their posts and handed their weapons and vehicles over to the insurgents.
In 2006, al-Qaeda extremists had seized control of Iraq’s Sunni triangle, with popular support from the marginalized Sunni Arab leaders. The so-called surge strategy employed by the Americans to oust the al-Qaeda extremists from the Sunni triangle involved cash payments and arms being given to the local tribal leaders.
With the U.S. promise that the payments and improved status would continue, the Sunni moderates forced the al-Qaeda from their midst.
Following the U.S. departure from Iraq in 2011, Shiite President Nouri al-Maliki ignored his U.S. advisors and stopped payments to the Sunni tribes. Hence, once again feeling shunned, the Sunni tribes welcomed the Daesh extremists when they arrived in 2014.
This past May, Iraq held a new round of parliamentary elections, wherein Muqtada al-Sadr’s party won the majority of the seats. Muqtada is not only a Shiite cleric; he is also a fanatical warlord.
In April 2004 he ordered his military to attack U.S. troops and for a long period of time he was considered to be America’s number one enemy. He posted billboards to taunt the U.S. soldiers featuring his image and the words – in English – “All men belong to me.” This guy is a raving nutter.
Now he is to be Iraq’s new leader, and a Canadian led NATO mission will be training troops to prop up his regime.
But don’t worry folks; Major-General Fortin is confident that this time around he will be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys in Iraq.
Note to Fortin, I cannot wish you success in your mission because you are embarked on a fool’s errand: Training more Iraqi’s to kill in the name of a corrupt regime is insane.
However, I will hope and pray for the safe return of all Canadians from this dangerous venture, one which we should never have agreed to become involved with in the first place.