Canada’s decision to withdraw fighter jets in Syria


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed at the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey on November 15 that Canada will withdraw its fighter jets in bombings against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Canada currently has six CF-18 fighter jets taking part in a US-led bombing and 70 Special Forces troops training Kurdish forces in Northern Iraq. Trudeau has yet to establish a date or a plan to withdraw the jets; however, there has been speculation that he may wait for Canada’s military commitment to expire in March 2016.

A call to action to bomb ISIS grew after the Paris attacks that took place on November 13. In this event, ISIS members murdered 129 people and injured 352, with 80 of those people in critical condition. The attacks were the worst acts of terrorism in French history and the French President François Hollande called it “an act of war that was prepared, organized and planned from abroad with internal help.”

After the attack, Hollande ordered an intensification of French air strikes on Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq. Other countries like Russia and the United States also intensified their military action in those countries.

Trudeau, however, still stands firm with his campaign promise to pull Canada’s warplanes from Syria and Iraq and instead focus on training Kurdish forces. Trudeau fears that Canada will become too deeply involved in an open-ended conflict in that troubled region of the world.

“I don’t think Canada has a role to play there. I think we’re on a slippery slope on a long engagement. And I think one of the things we’ve learned from conflicts like this is sending in Western forces in a combat role doesn’t necessarily make things any better,” Trudeau stated at the press conference for the G20 summit.

“Whether it’s Libya or whether it’s Iraq, it doesn’t necessarily contribute to the kind of outcomes that people would responsibly like to see, and what I’ve committed to stay away from is easy solutions in very complex situations.”

Trudeau also expresses the importance of Canada’s compassionate and constructive voice with this opportunity and responsibility to exemplify a strong vision of growth, unity and positivity. As the leader of Canada, Trudeau strives to combat terrorist financing, prevent violent extremism, and increase co-operation with security agencies to stop foreign fighters. ISIS has claimed Canada’s decision to withdraw a victory; however, Canadian warplanes have flown less than three percent of coalition missions, which means their withdrawal will not make much of a difference.

Andrew Mack, security expert at One Earth Future Foundation, believes the attacks on Paris do not make a difference in Canada’s rationale to stop bombing as he states, “Nothing has changed. The attack on Paris makes no difference whatsoever to the rationale for not bombing. I actually think bombing is effective, but Canada’s contribution to it is minimal. It really doesn’t make a difference one way or another.”

These air strikes on Syria and Iraq are a violation of international humanitarian law as it causes the death of many innocent families. A massive military response in Syria will only heighten the refugee influx, security expert at Queens University and the Royal Military College of Canada, Christian Leuprecht states.

Although many people around the world are angered by the attacks on Paris and demand action to stop ISIS, the airstrikes kill and leave many peaceful citizens homeless and force them to seek refuge in other countries. Trudeau keeps his promise to Canada and commits to influencing peace.