Report card on war with ISIL says Harper government ignoring key concerns

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, looks out towards ISIL fighting positions as he visits members of the Advise and Assist mission 40 kilometres west of Erbil, Iraq, on Saturday, May 2, 2015.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA - An independent report on Canada's war against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant says the threat posed by extremists is real, but perhaps exaggerated, while the Harper government ignores other important political concerns.

An analysis by the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, says the horrific violence meted out by extremists is just the latest expression of Sunni alienation in Iraq, something which few Canadians can relate to.

Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa, says Canada's endorsement of air strikes and the training of local security forces will not be enough to defeat the Islamic State.

He says the Harper government has not been clear about its policy towards Shiite and Sunni reconciliation and has little influence in Baghdad without an embassy there.

The report comes just over a week after Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a whirlwind visit to Iraq, where he met Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and delivered $167 million in humanitarian aid and military equipment.

Without a political process in place, Juneau says, the collapse of the Islamic State would lead likely lead to the emergence of a new, potentially more threatening, reaction from disenfranchised Sunnis.

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