Feb 292016

Following the Liberal government’s announced changes to Canada’s military actions in Iraq and Syria, the Communist Party of Canada is renewing its call for an immediate and complete end to participation in any military interventions in the region. We join with others in urging a renewal of anti-war actions across Canada, including protests planned on March 19 in a number of cities.

The statement that Canada will end its active role in the destructive and illegal bombing of Syria shows that public opposition to the bombing has had an impact, along with the determined resistance of the Syrian people to terrorism and “regime change”. The government’s statement that it intends to use diplomatic means to promote regional stability is also a welcome shift from the war rhetoric of the defeated Harper Tories.

But Canada will continue to assist the bombing campaign through reconnaissance and refuelling. The massive expansion of Operation IMPACT, Canada’s “boots on the ground”, with triple the numbers of “advisers and assistants,” is an ominous signal that we are entering another dangerous quagmire. A decade of Canadian war-making in Afghanistan left thousands dead in that country, along with about 160 Canadian soldiers. Yet today, Afghanistan remains deeply divided between competing groups of warlords and fundamentalist militias, no closer to peace, stability and real guarantees of the human rights achieved before the Taliban takeover more than 30 years ago. Like the disastrous US-led occupation of Iraq, such tragedies are ample proof that western military interventions in Central Asia and the Middle East are the source of endless armed conflicts and deaths, not a solution to the problems of the region.

The Trudeau government must withdraw from and renounce the imperialist strategy for a New Middle East, made up of a patchwork of weak and fragmented Arab states who cannot challenge Israeli expansion or Western domination.

In the case of the Iraq/Syria mission which began after advances in 2014 by ISIL/Daesh, western military intervention cannot resolve this crisis. In fact, the regional situation has worsened with the Saudi/Gulf state war in Yemen, gains for ISIL in Libya, and increasing aggressions by Turkey, a NATO member which is violating Syrian sovereignty with its cross-border attacks against Kurdish forces. The spreading conflict is a potential powderkeg, involving heavily armed forces backed by the US and its NATO allies, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran.

It is shocking that Canada portrays itself as an active defender of the equality rights of women and minority groups, while strengthening alliances with the reactionary governments of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. By allowing the $15 billion sale of Canadian-built military vehicles to the Saudi regime, the Trudeau government made it clear that it will put profits ahead of any humanitarian principles.

In our view, the changes to Canada’s military mission reflect the underlying imperialist drive to divide and re-divide the world’s territory and resources. Despite vigorous denials by Canadian officials, it seems clear that by giving full support to the training and strengthening of Iraqi Kurdish peshmurga forces, Canada is promoting and assisting plans to dismember Iraq and Syria. Allegedly to reduce ethnic and religious tensions by establishing Sunni, Shia and Kurdish autonomous areas, this strategy inevitably leads toward “independence” under the domination of the big western energy monopolies. Such a strategy would also prevent a unified Iraq taking part in a wider move away from the petrodollar – the “crime” which was the real trigger for the US/UK aggression of 2003. Our Party condemns the brutal wars against the Kurdish people by ISIL/Daesh and Turkey, but the peoples of the Middle East will not benefit from outside imperialist powers intervening to “settle disputes”. In fact, this will only set the stage for more future conflicts, as seen by reports that peshmurga forces have been accused of “ethnic cleansing” against Sunni Arabs in Iraq.

The Communist Party of Canada demands that instead of expanding Operation Impact, the federal government should immediately begin the withdrawal of all Canadian military personnel from the region. We condemn Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s November 2015 statement that “Assad must go.” Canada must stop meddling in the internal affairs of Iraq and Syria, and give full support to efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Syria, with the full involvement of the elected Bashar al-Assad government. Canada must decisively end its role in imperialist war-making, by withdrawing from the NATO alliance and slashing military spending by 75%. By making a radical shift towards a foreign policy based on peace, disarmament and national sovereignty, Canada could become a genuine peacemaker rather than a cog in the US war machine.