On Target: Middle East mission now a Liberal delusion

By: Scott Taylor

An Air Task Force-Iraq (ATF-I) technician guides the pilot of a CF-188 Hornet fighter jet onto the ramp after the first Canadian airstrike over Syria during Operation IMPACT on April 8, 2015. (Op Impact, DND)

An Air Task Force-Iraq (ATF-I) technician guides the pilot of a CF-188 Hornet fighter jet onto the ramp after the first Canadian airstrike over Syria during Operation IMPACT on April 8, 2015. (Op Impact, DND)

Now that the Liberal government has announced its new policy on Canada’s anti-Daesh efforts in the Middle East, it appears as though the Liberals are equally as delusional as were the Harper Conservatives.

The warmongers are still miffed that Justin Trudeau is withdrawing our six CF-18 aircraft from the Middle East, but they are more than mollified by the fact that under the new Liberal plan, there will be more boots on the ground.

While deploying under the politically saleable banner of a training mission, the Colonel Blimp brigade has already taken to the airwaves to inform the Canadian public that the only place to train recruits is on the front lines, alongside the trainees, in combat with them. But it’s not combat if you say it’s training. As for setting the stage for any additional casualties our trainers will suffer during their deployment, the tub-thumpers explain that in an “insurgent environment, the threat is 360 and it is constant.”

Once again the military cheerleaders have revived the old wives tale that our Canadian soldiers are particularly excellent as trainers based on the success we had training Afghan soldiers.

I will state once more that, in my opinion, Canadian soldiers are the very best in the world; however, the truth of the matter is that we failed in Afghanistan. We had no linguistic, ethnic, cultural or religious connection to the Afghan recruits, and those trained by Canadians were just as likely to desert, sell their weapons or defect to the Taliban as those trained by our NATO allies.

At the political level, what makes the Liberal plan so delusional is that they insist Canada’s goal is to restore a unified Iraq under a central, democratically elected Baghdad government. The problem with this is that our military trainers and weaponry are being sent to assist Kurdish militias who have no intention of returning to a minority status within a unified Iraq.

In the early stages of the Daesh offensive, which swept out of Syria and captured the Sunni Triangle in Iraq in the spring of 2014, the Kurds seemed like the only reliable fighting force on the ground. The Iraqi security force — trained and equipped by the U.S. for over a decade — deserted en masse, handing over to Daesh a massive arsenal of weapons, artillery and armoured vehicles.

Those Iraqi soldiers had no intention of sacrificing themselves for the sake of the corrupt Baghdad regime of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. The Kurds, on the other hand, were fighting Daesh to not only protect their homes, but with the greater goal of establishing their own independent nation.

To facilitate this, the Kurds took advantage of the Daesh threat to attack Iraqi security forces in Kirkuk. The capture of this vital oil field infuriated Baghdad and provided the Kurds with the economic engine necessary to attain complete independence.

So enhancing the efficiency of Kurdish militias runs counter to Ottawa’s stated claim of reunifying Iraq. Just because the Kurds are fighting the Daesh evildoers, it doesn’t automatically make them nice guys. Amnesty International recently issued a report detailing how Kurdish militias have been involved in widespread ethnic cleansing of Arabs, Yazidis, Turkmen and Christians from Kurdish-held territory.

The Kurds are also Muslims and among them are extremist elements such as the al-Qaeda Kurdish Battalion and the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which, in pursuit of its separatist agenda, has launched a string of terror attacks in Turkey over the past two decades. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Canada, the U.S. and European Union.

In the Kurdish territory of Iraq where our trainers will be increasing their presence, the leadership has a very thin façade of a democracy. However, when Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan met with the Kurdish regional government in Erbil last December, alarm bells should have gone off.

Massoud Barzani is the president of the regional government and his nephew Nechirvan Barzani is the prime minister. Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talibani is the second son of Jalal Talabani, who was president of Iraq from 2005 to 2014, when ill health forced his retirement.

Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani are both sons of tribal chieftains and were considered rival warlords until the U.S. brought Western democracy to the region.

In other words, just like when the U.S. brought democracy to Afghanistan and turned warlords into cabinet ministers in the pursuit of a unified nation.

Given how well Afghanistan worked out, I can’t see any possible flaw in Trudeau’s plan for Canada in Iraq err, I mean Kurdistan.