Friday, October 3, 2014

Canada will join the US-led coalition to attack the Islamic State in Iraq

Canada will join in the coalition led by the US to combat the Islamic State. The mission will involve air combat but no ground troops and will be only in Iraq not Syria and initially will be for six months.

A motion was tabled in the Canadian House of Commons today, October 3, and the text can be found here. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that the contribution will include an air-to-air refueling plane, two surveillance aircraft, and also Canada is offering up to six CF-18 fighter jets. Canada will provide pilots and support personnel. For now, Harper said that Canada would attack the Islamic State only where it had the clear support of the country being bombed. This would not include Syria but Harper said also that he might expand the airstrikes if the situation changes. Canada is already providing humanitarian aid to Iraq as well as weapons for the Kurdish peshmerga.
 Canada's Conservative government had already authorized the deployment of up to 69 military advisers for a period of thirty days, the new motion extends that authorization for another six months.The former authorization extended only until tomorrow. Harper emphasized that no ground troops would be involved. Canada was invited by the US to join in the fight against the Islamic State.
Australia has already indicated it will join the US-led coalition:Four Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18F Super Hornets, a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport refueling aircraft, and an E-7A Wedgetail Early Warning and Control Aircraft took to the air Thursday before Australia announced the move. Australian special forces troops will be deployed in Iraq to assist in the fight against Islamic State militants, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday, and its aircraft will also join U.S.-led coalition strikes. There has been no UN motion sanctioning the attacks.
 No opposition party supported the new Canadian mission for now. The leader of the New Democratic Party(NDP) Tom Mulcair said that humanitarian aid and diplomatic measures should happen before a military attack. However, he did not rule out supporting the mission if his questions are answered during debate in the coming week. Mulcair worried that Canada could be dragged into a quagmire such as the last Iraq war that lasted for a decade when the US invaded Iraq. Mulcair also worried that Harper might extend the mission to bombing Syria without having a vote in parliament on the issue. Mulcair made the same criticism of the Syrian attacks on the Islamic State as many Syrian rebels, namely that the bombings aided Assad. Some of Mulcair's remarks are on the appended video. The NDP House Leader Peter Julian told reporters that the party needs to see Harper tackle the questions that the NDP had been posing for some time: “We do see the prime minister making very controlled comments but he hasn’t answered some of the basic questions we’ve been asking around timelines, around the scope of the mission, about whether he’s asking for an extension of the mission to Syria.” Julian also stressed that humanitarian aid should be the prime focus of any Canadian mission. Justin Trudeau, the leader of the Liberal Party, and son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau said that his party would not support the mission saying: "The Liberal Party of Canada cannot and will not support this prime minister's motion to go to war in Iraq. The prime minister in his motion today once again relied on rhetoric rather than facts and information. He has no plan, he has not justified his case for going to war in Iraq, and therefore the Liberal Party cannot support it." Trudeau had supported the earlier 30 day non-combat mission in Iraq. Trudeau echoed the NDP complaints that Harper did not answer questions about the mission adequately.
 Elizabeth May the leader and sole representative of the Green Party in the Canadian parliament also opposed the mission and wanted more than the one day of debate scheduled for Monday or Tuesday next week and voted on the same day. May said she supported Harper's intentions but said that in the past bombing countries has not been helpful. She also suggested that provoking military action might be exactly what the Islamic State wanted. Harper's Conservative government enjoys a majority in parliament so it is expected that the motion approving the mission will be approved Monday or Tuesday.

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