ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The so-called Islamic State could re-emerge in Iraq if the causes of its emergence are not addressed, a Commander of Canada’s anti-ISIS operations in Iraq said on Tuesday.
“The military side can only do so much in Iraq,” General Colin Keiver, Commander Joint Task Force Iraq, told The National in an interview.
Keiver underlined that it is vital “to go after the cause of those grievances” which led to the Islamic State’s rise in Iraq, “and until you do that, this is something that will continue,” he warned.
Despite Iraq declaring victory over the extremist group in December 2017, the fight to eradicate the Islamic State from the country continues. The terror group often launches regular attacks in previously liberated areas like Mosul, and in places it never controlled like the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
“I think they know that the dream of the caliphate is dead,” the Canadian Commander said, but “they are trying very hard to recreate themselves as an insurgency.”
“The Iraqi people and their government need to come together in peace in the same way as they came together in war in 2014 to defeat ISIS.”
Indeed, Canada’s Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan reiterated this point as well in a recent interview with Kurdistan 24.
The Canadian defense minister underlined that the coalition and its partners must analyze what caused the emergence of the Islamic State and address “some of those root causes as well.”
Canada is currently leading a NATO training mission in Iraq. The mission builds on past NATO efforts to train Iraqi forces as they work to prevent the re-emergence of the Islamic State and other militant groups.
The mission, launched at the Brussels summit last July, reflects the efforts of US President Donald Trump to have US allies bear more of the burden of common defense.
According to General Keiver, Trump’s surprise decision to withdraw American troops from Syria makes the fight against the Islamic State “more complicated.”
He said every country in the US-led coalition is currently in discussion “to work out what [America’s withdrawal] means and how [to] address the issue.”
Meanwhile, Canada’s role in the anti-ISIS coalition is set to expire in March. Keiver told The National the mission would likely continue, but it was “entirely a government of Canada call.”