Withdrawal of CF-18s from NATO-Led Middle East Bombing Mission

Withdrawal of CF-18s from NATO-Led Middle East Bombing Mission

Update 3rd May, 2016

The Role we play in NATO has more significance under current circumstances than seeking a velvet chair on the Security Council.

TREATIES are for the COMMON GOOD whether in Coalition or in Defence of one another’s sovereignty and security interests.

The Liberal Government plans to “rebuild” Canadian ties to the UNITED NATIONS organization and their wish is to engage robustly with the U.N. in MULTILATERAL Engagements, meaning the mounting of a bid for a seat on the U.N. Security Council.

It also means that the Liberal Government is retreating in part from the Middle East disarray behind a re-branded “peacekeeping” “honest broker” image and a pan-Canadian, TRAIN, ADVISE, and ASSIST posture, apparently suitably supportive of the coalition leading the charge.

The United States is leading a “Coalition.” NATO is leading the bombing mission in IRAQ against ISIS.

Whatever the Canadian CF 18s’ withdrawal from the NATO-led bombing campaign means, the aircraft conducted some 1,300 flights as a top five contributor to the anti-ISIS coalition.

In effect, Canada has now stepped back from the NATO coalition air fight against ISIS and the broader IRAQ/SYRIAN theatre in that regard.

Others view the decision to withdraw CF-18s’ GROUND SUPPORT in the fight against ISIL a strategic mistake, more so in the eyes of our ALLIES.

Others believe the “honest broker” and “peacekeeping” roles are imaginative, fanciful, and fantasy from the ’50s era. This was a post-World War clean up time, one of several small wars (14 throughout the region and South East Asia), and not a blue helmet in sight then, until Cyprus and the Golan.

Having been to North Africa, Aden Protectorate, and on Airlift standby duties involving then-Persia menacing Kuwaiti is a memory. The Six-Day War in the region occurred on the day of my arrival in Canada, while still on the British Reserve List.

Others are supportive of Canada’s commitment to engage in MILITARY ACTION, SUPPORT, and HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS alongside many other nations likewise committed and engaged.

Under the UN Charter, the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. The fact is, Allies and coalition nations are currently seeking to secure the peace and hold a common enemy to account.

The United Nations Security Council and many other countries have declared the Extremist Militia Forces “Foreign Terrorist Organizations.” These organizations are involved in infiltration, insurgency, and territorial acquisition and the commission of atrocities.

There are 49 other countries, a coalition, involved in a campaign to crush the “EXTREMISM” involved and to curb the spread of its insidious effects. Four African nations are similarly involved in the fight there.

In the Middle East, in very general terms, some 18 countries over and above the USA are involved in Military Actions in the IRAQ/SYRIAN theatres. Some ten other countries are supplying Military Aid. A further ten countries are supplying or are committed to providing Humanitarian Aid.

According to the U.N. Secretary General, this WAR has fuelled extremism and hastened the spread of international terrorism…could it be added threatening INTERNATIONAL PEACE and SECURITY?

Whether or not WAR refers to International Terrorism, the formation of an Islamic State, or the Civil WAR in Syria, the coalition members are being urged to contribute to an “accelerated” effort to destroy the extremist organizations in SYRIA and IRAQ.

What we do know from the Secretary General of the UNITED Nations is that the Syrian “Conflict” has reached “an almost uncontrollable point” after more than five years of Civil WAR in which close to half a million people have been killed.

Close to 5 million people have fled their homes and are refugees and over 11 million are in immediate NEED of HUMANITARIAN HELP. The exodus has caused immense instability in Eastern Europe, Crimea and UKRAINE aside.

Meanwhile neighbouring countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and others with a critical interest such as IRAN, ISRAEL, SAUDI ARABIA, and the United ARAB Emirates are involved in collateral ways.

There is a plethora of disparate interests and concerns amidst the hovering threats to Israel’s existence.

JORDAN is militarily engaged in Syria and IRAQ while Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Arab States are strategizing the use of Air Power and Ground troops to fight against ISIS/ISIL, light-armoured vehicles aside.

In Syria, Bashar al-Assad with the help of Russia, since September 2015, is conducting “counter-insurgency” “measures” bent on retaking back the whole Country and expunging a REBEL faction opposed to his regime in the process. Fighters from the Lebanese group Hezbollah are purported to be or have been involved.

The Kurdish Syrians, approximately 2 million, mainly Sunni Muslims, are seeking political autonomy. They are situated in the northeast of Syria backing Turkey and between the flanking militias and the Syrian rebels fronting the Syrian-Russian Counter-Insurgency.

In Northern Syria, ISIS and the Al-Nusra front otherwise called al-Qaeda in Syria or al-Qaeda in the Levant is a Sunni Islamist militia fighting against the Syrian Government. Al-Nusra cooperates with Islamist and Jihadist rebel groups and some Free Syrian Army-aligned groups, against Syrian government forces.

Some 300,000 civilians in the Syrian rebel-“moderate” opposition are fleeing the Syrian Government-Russian offensive. (BBC Report and Map 10th February 2016-Source U.N. ISW.)

Meanwhile Al-Nusra cooperates with Islamist and Jihadist rebel groups and some Free Syrian Army-aligned groups, against Syrian government forces.

IRAQI Sunni insurgents, al-Qaeda, and ISIS are also fighting the Syrian opposition seeking to straddle and infiltrate Northern Iraq and Syria to form a self-declared Caliphate, very generally speaking.

ISIS claims to have fighters from the UK, France, Germany, and other European countries, as well as the US, the Arab world, and the Caucasus.

Meanwhile, Canada’s military contributions continue with the exception of the CF18. As a minimum our military, mainly working with Iraq-Kurdistan, facing al-Qaeda head on, deserve to hear that their engagements have gained ground against the pervasive al-Qaeda in Northern Iraq, given their effectiveness and successes.

It goes without saying that with the assignment of additional Canadian Special Forces, to al-Qaeda-IRAQ is a testament to necessity and success. It follows that the difficulty is associated with the fact that al Qaeda-ISIS are internationally condemned for brutality, reported human rights abuses, and tactically using innocents in pursuit of their aims.

Kurdistan had suffered previously from attacks of weapons of mass destruction. They now seek an independent regime from IRAQ. Others including Canada want them to remain in Union with IRAQ…given Canada’s experiences in matters of national unity.

The Canadian Military Textbook definition of COMBAT is: A combat operation is a military operation where the use or threatened use of force including lethal force is essential to impose will upon an armed opponent – or to accomplish a mission.

As of February 13, 2016, Arab Allies of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates renewed pledges of ground troops. This takes the form of restarting air strikes and providing special operations forces against ISIL in IRAQ.

These allies are among the leading backers of the Syrian rebel forces. They have pledged to boost their role in the fight against ISIL.

All this to say, lots of work is already ongoing on “the “World Stage” to forge Ceasefires and secure PEACE. History has shown it takes a very long time to establish peace before we maintain it, just saying.

Such efforts often straddle the best efforts of different governments of whatever “POLITICAL stripe” or self-serving comparatives.


Concerns Raised After Kurdish Battle-Questions arise over mission and Iraq’s Future-Ottawa Citizen-David Pugliese, May 3rd 2016

Canadian supported Kurdish Fighters fought in a bloody battle with Forces Allied with Iraq’s Government. [….] 10 people were killed in the battle raising questions about Canadian and coalition training of the KURDS and what will come in the aftermath of the eventual defeat of Islamist Extremists in IRAQ. […..] The Kurds have used their training to battle the extremists from the ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ and the LEVANT (ISIL)-BUT also have as their ULTIMATE GOAL the establishment of their own INDEPENDENT STATE.

A tense ceasefire is now in place between KURDISH and IRAQI militia forces. The recent battle was the second time in the last five months that Kurdish Peshmerga fought SHIITE Militia allied with the IRAQ GOVERNMENT.

According to Peggy Mason, President of the Rideau Institute in Ottawa, a former Disarmament Ambassador “ OUR TRAINING of THE PESHMERGA is not helping if the end result is a stronger group to fight against the IRAQI Government later on”. Mason said Canada needs to provide more help to Iraq’s Central Government to aid it in developing an ADMINISTRATION that could be supported by most IRAQI Citizens, […] though a tough job-she warned that not to do so runs the RISK of creating more CHAOS and a political vacuum that could lead to the emergence of another group similar to ISIL

In a PUBLIC RELATIONS push, shepherded by Chief of Defence Staff Vance and in close cooperation with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office.[….] The mission according to Military Commanders is to STRENGTHEN IRAQ. The mission is being carried out by Canadian Special Operations Regiment from Petawawa, Ontario. VANCE is playing down any concern about cracks in the IRAQ-KURDISH ALLIANCE in performing the FUNCTION to rid IRAQ of ISIL. “ It is in all our best interests to have the political unity necessary to deal with THIS THREAT”. “ Where after IRAQ decides to go in terms of ITS POLITICAL LAYDOWN is up to IRAQ.”

Vance’s message was also in contrast to that of U.S. Defence Secretary Ash Carter who told CONGRESS last week that political discord among factions in IRAQ is on the RISE. “In some instances, ETHNO-SECTARIAN COMPETITION HAS INCREASED”.

New video shows Canadian soldiers wearing Kurdish flag on uniforms: Why this risks fracturing Iraq.


The Kurds across Turkey and much of the Middle East number some 30 million people. They have “long sought their own country. Those in Northern Iraq have a degree of autonomy, but their ultimate aspiration is official statehood.”

It has been reported that Federal Officials warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau late last year that Canada may be contributing to long-term instability in Iraq by TRAINING and EQUIPPING Kurdish forces in THE FIGHT against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIS-ISIL whose ultimate goal is to create an independent state.

“Government and military officials have downplayed those concerns, saying the central government in Baghdad has approved the mission and Canada has told the Kurds it strongly supports a unified Iraq.” Speaking to CTV in Iraq, Vance said Iraq’s long-term political make-up was of secondary concern to defeating ISIL.



Kevin Murray-Mourne is a former Trade Commissioner for Space, Aerospace, Defence and Security with the Department of External Affairs and International Trade Canada. He is a Veteran of Her Majesty’s Armed forces. He attended the Canadian Centre for Management Development, the Canadian Foreign Affairs Institute and is a Graduate of the American Management Associations Management Program.

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