Canada expands military mission in the Middle East to unprecedented level

Canada has now established the largest military “footprint” in the Middle East in its history. These forces include: special forces in Baghdad and Irbil in Iraq (2016 and 2014); unannounced border locations in Lebanon and Jordan (2016); a military base or hub in Kuwait established in 2010, now to be expanded; a military force in Ramallah, West Bank Occupied Palestine (Operation Proteus) established in 2005; and the warship HMCS Frederiction, deployed on February 11 to the NATO Fleet being positioned in the Aegean Sea. Canadian warships also deploy to the Persian Gulf. All are directly or indirectly under U.S. command. Renewal Update reports on the latest news.

Actions took place across Canada March 19, 2016, on the 13th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Photo shows Ottawa demonstration.

Coinciding with the 13th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq which began on March 19, 2003, Canada is expanding its military role in Iraq and the Middle East. The government argues that these actions are in line with what it calls Canada’s history of peacekeeping. In this way, it covers up that so long as Canada belongs to NATO and NORAD its peacekeeping missions are either part of imperialism’s plans of “no war, no peace,” as in Palestine which causes untold suffering, or as part of the U.S. striving for domination, which has been the case since the interventions in Yugoslavia.

The placement of the hundreds of additional Canadian troops to Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan as well as the role they will play was discussed recently at a conference with U.S. Central Command and “partner nations.” Canada’s expanded military role is being “developed in close coordination” with the U.S., the National Post reported on March 14.

“A lot of positions were vacant within the coalition structure. We are picking up some of them,” said Lt.-Gen. Steve Bowes, the head of Canadian Joint Operations Command, one of two commands in the Canadian Armed Forces alongside the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command.

“At the moment, in what they call the building partner capacity sites, they are oversubscribed in trainers and undersubscribed in troops to train, but the mission will evolve. So, in a year’s time, who really knows,” Bowes said. The “building partner capacity sites” refer to Canada’s placement of troops in Jordan and Lebanon, whose mission is unclear but “will evolve” according to Bowes.

According to Bowes, Canadian Brigadier-General David Anderson will command a “coalition team” to work with Iraq’s “security ministries” in Baghdad to prepare battle plans for the “long-anticipated offensive to drive the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant out of Mosul and northwestern Iraq.” The reports indicate that as many as 12 other Canadians will be part of the “team” although it does not indicate who else is part, or under whose command Anderson will be.

Reports also say that some Canadian forces being sent to the Middle East will join the staff of a U.S. army major-general in Baghdad, alongside Canadian Brig.-Gen. Greg Smith.

Others are to be part of an expanded “Canadian intelligence capability” or “tasked with supporting troops in Iraq by expanding the logistics footprint in Kuwait.”

160319-Ottawa-AntiWar-11crFour Canadian Griffon helicopters, commonly equipped with Gatling guns, are being sent to Iraq are to be deployed exclusively with “Canadian Special Forces Operations Command” troops. These forces are reported to be “advising and mentoring” Kurdish peshmerga forces, Bowes said.

Although the Liberal government has repeatedly referred to the mission as “non-combat,” Bowes presented the increasing presence of Canadian forces and heavily armed helicopters as a response to the threat of ISIS. “The enemy, ISIL, Daesh (its acronym in Arabic), has shown an ability to metastasize and change tactics and we try to keep abreast of them,” he said.

“For example, how they have been converting dump trucks, putting armour plates on them and creating vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices. That shows the degree to which they are capable of taking anything and changing it into a weapon.”

It is necessary to pay attention to how the government of Canada is embroiling Canadians in U.S. imperialist war preparations carried out in the name of peace and peacekeeping. Canadians need to establish an anti-war government that will take Canada out of NATO and NORAD and make sure it is a factor for peace.

Renewal Update, March 21, 2016 • No. 9

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