The Canadian Federal MPs voted 142-129 for the extension of the current Canadian mission against the Islamic State in Iraq. The mission has been officially extended for another year.
The Royal Canadian Air Forces CF-188 Hornets are now authorized to conduct airstrikes in both Iraq and Syria. The sorties over Syria are expected to start within a day or two. Canada will join the United States in the bombing campaign in Syria. The United States is the only Western country conducting airstrikes in Syria.
The NDP and the Liberal Party of Canada voted against the motion and voiced their concerns regarding an indirect support to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. In fact, both parties believes that the airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria will strengthen al-Assad’s grip on Syria.
Both parties are also challenging the legality of airstrikes in Syria. The Conservatives responded by saying they are legal, justified and necessary to further destabilize the Islamic State in the region. They also added that Canada has a moral obligation to support the global war on terrorism.
The NDP tried to amend the motion to remove Canadian soldiers from combat and refocus Canada’s support to the coalition by providing humanitarian aid. Due to the Conservative majority, the amendement failed to pass.
Justin Trudeau, the Liberal Party of Canada leader, also voiced his concerns about the bombings in Syria. He confirmed that if his party wins the elections next fall, he would immediately stop the bombings but would send more Canadian soldiers to train the Iraqi security forces.
THE ROLE OF CANADIAN SPECIAL OPERATIONS
Members of the Canadian Special Forces will also stay in Iraq to advise and assist the Iraqi security forces. They will also continue to do the same with the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, known to inflict a lot of damage to the Islamic State.
Earlier this year, Sgt Andrew Doiron from the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) was killed by Peshmerga friendly fire. This incident was unfortunate but Canada’s support to the Peshmerga remains very important.
Canadian special forces operators are also active on the ground to guide coalition’s airstrikes. Their presence allows the bombing campaign to surgically strike Islamic State positions and keep the collateral damage to a minimum.
Although nothing was confirmed, Canadian Special Forces could be moving into Syria to guide coalition’s bombings, a move that would greatly decrease the risk of collateral damage against Syria’s population and Syrian infrastructure.
The Canadian Special Operations could also play a major role if Canada allows them to accompany the Peshmerga on the frontline. Their highly trained special operators could give valuable guidance and coordinate available assets.
For example, the use of Canadian snipers could reduce the use of laser-guided bombs and would enable the coalition to eliminate high value targets without destroying the infrastructure. The same snipers could also be teamed with a forward air controller in case airstrikes are needed.
CRITICAL ELECTION FOR THE FUTURE OF CANADA’S CONTRIBUTION AGAINST THE ISLAMIC STATE.
The federal election will be critical for Canada’s role against the Islamic State. If the Conservative remains in power, the current airstrikes and the Canadian special forces mission will continue until March 2016.
The Canadian population is mostly in favour of the current Canadian involvement against the Islamic State. Canadians understand the importance of defeating the Islamic State. They have been influencing many around the world and a great number of innocent civilians were killed by lone wolves who were heavily influenced by the Islamic State propaganda.
Canada has always been a strong supporter of the global war on terrorism and will continue to do so. Having said that, Canada’s role could take a sharp turn if the Conservatives are not reelected next fall.