We all long to live in peace – without fear of war, violence and injustice. Sadly, this not the reality for many people and communities in Iraq and Syria. Years of political, ethnic, religious and economic grievances – often fueled by foreign military intervention – have forced millions of people from their homes, increased divisions between groups, and accelerated the rise of extremism in many pockets of the region.
Countries around the world, including Canada, have committed millions of dollars and personnel to a military coalition against ISIS, supposedly in pursuit of a sustainable peace in the region. But is military intervention really the solution?
On June 29, 2017, the Canadian government announced the renewal of its military mission in Iraq for at least two more years, until March 2019. The nature of the continued mission – and the specific plans for peace – remain unclear, but will likely include:
- continued training and supplying of arms to Iraqi Kurdish groups,
- possibly extending this support to Iraqi government forces, who, like the Kurds have been accused of human rights violations.
Canada has also supported humanitarian, development and – most recently – non-violent peacebuilding projects in the region.
However, the extended military mission raises significant concerns. The military mission does nothing to address the long-standing grievances underlying the conflict and continued divisions. Moreover, as local organizations and communities point out, foreign military intervention is actually exacerbating conflict and division, rather than contributing to long-lasting peace in Iraq and Syria.
Please join us, and our Iraqi partners, in calling for Canada to end its military mission in Iraq and to invest efforts and resources into sustainable development, diplomacy and nonviolent peacebuilding initiatives aimed at long-term peace and reconciliation.
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