Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: What Canada Fights for, and Against

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: What Canada Fights for, and Against

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: What Canada fights for, and against

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An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published March 24:

If the Islamic State succeeds in conquering Iraq and Syria, it would be a matter of time before it turns against Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and any other nation within its reach. That is the nature of religious militancy in general, and this genocidal group in particular.

An IS victory would have explosive implications for the region and the world. There should be no doubt the elimination of existing state boundaries under fanatical leadership would be accompanied by a wave of religious and ethnic cleansing.

This, of course, is the nightmare scenario a broad coalition of nations has been trying to contain since a limited bombing campaign was launched last fall with moderate success.

It's also why Prime Minister Stephen Harper has decided to extend Canada's commitment to the anti-IS coalition and to expand the mission to include Syria.

The Islamic State currently occupies wide swaths of both Syria and Iraq, both of which are weakened by internal divisions and strife. The refusal of most coalition partners, however, to hit targets in Syria has created a safe haven for the extremists, who have moved fighters and material into the region to avoid allied bombs.

That's why Mr. Harper wants Canada to join other nations that have also decided to expand their air campaign into Syria.

The politics of the decision are confusing because Syria's dictator, Bashar Assad, says he's opposed to violations of his country's sovereignty. He has not, however, complained when allied warplanes hit fighters for Islamic State, who are also his enemies.

President Assad is unlikely to complain so long as the coalition effort supports his own cause.

Western democracies had been demanding Mr. Assad step down to end the civil war in his own country. The Islamic State, however, is the most dangerous enemy and the West is content to ignore Syria's own abuses for now. …

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