Why Canada sends troops to Iraq? What are the results desired by the Canadian government? And what is it willing to sacrifice?
First, Ottawa claims that by doing so it protects itself against terrorism. Former foreign minister Rob Nicholson stressed the need to weaken and destabilize ISIS in 2015. However neither airstrikes in Iraq and Syria nor coalition’s participation in Mosul mincing machine will lead to eradication of terrorism. The example of the Taliban in Afghanistan clearly demonstrates that a large-scale fighting will be followed by long and bloody guerrilla war, in which Canada could get stuck with no end in sight.
Second, we should analyze the aftermath of ISIS defeat in Iraq and Syria. This question has no clear-cut answer. In theory the Canadian military presence in Iraq helps the Iraqi government to regain control over the country. In practice Ottawa is cooperating with the Kurds, who are planning to establish their own independent state on the territory of Iraq, Syria and Turkey. These aspirations could further destabilize the region.
Third, it is unclear whether Canada is ready to confront the Islamic State on a global scale. ISIS is conducting subversive activities in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Algeria, Pakistan, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Nigeria, as well as in the countries of Southeast Asia in addition to Syria and Iraq. Consequently, it will require much more effort than just sending a few hundred soldiers to take part in an operation with controversial results for the complete elimination of the Islamic State.
Fourth, the situation in Syria and Iraq resembles a scenario that has repeatedly led to disastrous consequences in the Middle East. For example, the Western overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in fact led to the creation of ISIS. NATO’s invasion in Libya has practically ruined the country, led to fierce carnage over Muammar Gaddafi and contributed to the rapid spread of terrorist groups throughout North Africa not mentioning numerous victims among the civilian population.
Fifth, judging by the events in Mosul, one could argue that the operation would require considerable amount of money. Despite the fact that the military operation in Iraq has already hit the budget of the country, Canada is going to allocate approximately $305.9 million extra towards the extension and refocusing and carrying out the mission. This includes $41.9 million to be allocated for redeployment of personnel and equipment in 2016-17.
In addition, Canadian military’s participation in missions abroad comes with casualties. According to The Department of National Defense and the Canadian Armed Forces, 162 soldiers were killed in Afghanistan with more than two thousand injured. During the ten years of military presence in Afghanistan the Government invested in the operation more than $11 billion.
It is obvious that in the absence of clear military strategy and achievable goals the situation in Iraq can become second Afghanistan for Ottawa. Instead of solving internal problems, by supporting the international coalition Canada dared to get involved in another endless armed conflict. The leadership of the country once again has not consulted the opinion of its citizens sending dozens of soldiers to death and destroying the state budget.