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Kurdish Peoples

Trudeau’s Unhelpful Foreign Policy Moves to Address the Crisis in Syria and Iraq


Hamilton, Feb 17, 2016

The Hamilton Coalition To Stop the War today panned the Trudeau government’s “new course to address crises in Iraq and Syria and impacts on the region.” (1) The government’s new plan fails Canadians as well as the citizens of Iraq and Syria in at least five ways:

  1. Rather than reverse the decision of the previous Harper government of Canada to join the US-led coalition and to intervene militarily in Syria and Iraq, the Trudeau government merely shifted its military and humanitarian assets around and remained inside the US-led coalition. However, it’s important to note from the start that the US-led coalition is illegal under international law and the Charter of the United Nations, because it does not have the approval of the United Nations Security Council, which is the only body that can mandate collective military action against a member state, such as Syria. If the Trudeau government wishes to send the international community a message that “we’re back” (after an embarrassing absence under Harper), then it needs to come back, by respecting international law, which prohibits attacks by countries such as the US, Britain, Holland, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Canada inside the sovereign territory of Syria, a country that has NOT invited their help;
  2. Trudeau and his ministers have announced that they are withdrawing Canada’s six CF-18 fighter bombers from the Syrian & Iraqi theatres of war but will allow Canadian transport and refueling aircraft to remain part of the US-led coalition. This decision means, in practice, that Canadian aircraft will continue to participate in the bombing of Syria, not as bombers themselves, but as accomplices to the illegal act of bombing in Syria. This illegal activity inside of Syria differs diametrically with the military actions of both Russia and Iran in Syria, because both of those countries are allies of the Syrian government and have been invited to help the Syrian Army defeat foreign-backed terrorist mercenaries;
  3. The decision to increase the number of Canadian trainers working with Kurdish forces in Northern Iraq to 830 is problematic is well, for three reasons. First, as we have already seen with the death of Canadian Sergeant Doiron (2), these Canadian trainers will be put in harm’s way. And now, the Trudeau government has actually tripled the number of Canadian military personnel in Iraq from the commitment made under the previous Harper government and increased the likelihood of Canadian casualties accordingly. Secondly, these trainers are working with Kurdish forces whose mandate is to create a sovereign Kurdish state in Northern Iraq, thereby, destroying the territorial integrity of that country, something that is central to official Canadian policy. Unfortunately, US strategic aims for Iraq are quite different. It has been moving, since 1991, to divide Iraq into three balkanized regions: a Shia region, a Sunni region, and an autonomous Kurdish region in the north, where the bulk of Iraqi oil is located and where the transnational oil companies have established their headquarters. We must ask: was the Iraqi government consulted about if or where it preferred this Canadian troop deployment? Thirdly, there have been claims made that the Kurdish forces, which Canadian forces are training, have been engaged in ethnically cleansing non-Kurdish populations from the areas they have liberated from ISIS. (3) It would be very regrettable if Canadian troops were engaged in helping Kurdish troops in actions that are illegal under international law.
  4. While it’s interesting that Canada will contribute “more than $1.6 billion over the next three years towards its new approach to security, stabilization, humanitarian and development assistance in response to the crises in Iraq and Syria, and their impact on Jordan and Lebanon”, it would be a lot cheaper and more cost-effective for Canada, not to participate in the warehousing of Syrian refugees for the next three years, but rather to work actively for a speedy political resolution of the crisis in Syria and to allocate funding for the reconstruction of Syrian infrastructure destroyed during the past five years of western aggression and occupation by terrorist mercenaries. In this manner, the three to four million Syrian refugees and the six to seven million internally-displaced Syrians could go home quickly to rebuild their lives;
  5. Indeed, “Canada must do more to help find a diplomatic solution to the crises in Syria and Iraq.” (1) However, the Trudeau government has achieved extremely little in its first 100 days in this regard. It has not moved to re-establish diplomatic relations with Syria or to drop the economic sanctions against that country it imposed as the host country in June 2013 of the economic sanctions sub-committee of the so-called “Friends of Syria” Group of Countries (FSG). It has not even announced that it would formally quit the FSG, the organization that coordinated the five-year-long western aggression against Syria.

In conclusion, the HCSW finds that the Trudeau government’s so-called “new course to address the crises in Syria and Iraq” isn’t novel at all. Rather, it represents the traditional role of the Liberal Party in solidly supporting US foreign policy, while trying to posture to Canadians as independent. If Trudeau were sincere about about an independent Canadian foreign policy and peace in the Middle East, he would cancel the Saudi arms sale, stop calling for Syrian President Assad to step down (4), recognize the national sovereignty of Syria, and quit both the US-led coalition and NATO as well.

For more information, please contact Ken Stone at 905-383-7693 or