Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Canada Can't Ignore the Threat in Iraq

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Canada Can't Ignore the Threat in Iraq

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Canada can't ignore the threat in Iraq

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An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published Oct. 9:

Canada is doing the right thing in joining its allies in the effort to contain the threat posed by extremists in Iraq and Syria, despite the fact it's another one of those perplexing missions wrapped in confusion, uncertainty and risk.

The short-term goal is to contain Islamic State (IS), one of several names used to describe a group of hyper-violent jihadists intent on establishing a perverse theocracy over large parts of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

The group seemed to emerge mysteriously out of the drifting sands of the Mideast, catching western and even regional leaders by surprise. Such is the poor state of intelligence on the complex dynamics in the Mideast, where some countries originally supported the jihadists in the hope the terrorists would weaken Shia Iran, while also ensuring a Sunni regime replaced Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Today, however, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and many of the Gulf states are worried IS's radical brand could ignite unrest at home and fan a regional war.

As a result, the United States has successfully cobbled together a broad coalition of western and Mideast partners to tame the monster many of them played some role in creating.

Canada is sending nine military aircraft, including six CF-18s, as well a small contingent of special-operations troops to help train friendly forces. Ultimately, the counter-insurgency must be won by Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces, and whatever murky alliances are working in Syria.

The Kurds in northern Iraq have managed to field a credible force, although it is still out-matched by IS. Iraq's forces, however, are in disarray, despite billions of dollars invested by the Americans in training and equipment. Syria is a mess of competing interests.

Canada is committed to the theatre for six months, but it's obviously a political deadline, since there is no realistic expectation the problem will be solved in that time. …

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