No simple solutions in Ukraine, Iraq crises

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Scott Taylor discusses the flaws in the Canadian government’s approach to the conflicts in Iraq and Ukraine (ON TARGET: No simple solutions in Ukraine, Iraq crises, Chronicle Herald, 4 January 2015):

Canada has been one of the most strident supporters of the pro-western government in Kyiv, and one of the most vocal critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the pro-Russian Ukrainian rebels in the Donbass region. Unlike our European NATO allies, Canada has the advantage of being able to freely trash-talk Putin and rattle sabres with the Russians because we still have no real skin in this game….

As an oversimplification, the conflict in Ukraine is portrayed as a virtual tug of war between NATO wooing the western-leaning Ukrainians and Russia luring those ethnic-Russian Ukrainians who still wish close ties with their eastern neighbours.

What seems to be deliberately overlooked in this burgeoning clash of arms is that the root cause of Ukraine’s collapse and political unrest is the fact that the country is bankrupt. Economists estimate that for Ukraine to simply remain afloat it will require a cash infusion of some US$74 billion over the next 24 months….

While it may be a fun distraction for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to beat the war drums and goad other NATO leaders into pushing Russia ever closer to the brink of hostilities, it also needs to be remembered that not a single Ukrainian soldier fired a shot in defence of Crimea.

Those Ukrainian soldiers based in Crimea — and it was a major military base — not only willingly surrendered their weapons, but some 80 per cent of them subsequently switched uniforms to enlist in the Russian military. To make the reclamation of Crimea the NATO battle cry therefore seems to strike a rather hollow note.

As for any resolution of the violence between Ukrainian government forces and the rebels, there needs to be a viable financial and long-term workable business plan to overcome that nation’s massive debt.

Iraq

Similarly, Canada’s current combat contribution in the fight against ISIS in Iraq will accomplish nothing until we develop a strategy to eliminate the support ISIS fighters receive from the Sunni Arab population in the central Iraq territory that they control….

Bombing ISIS dump trucks and roadblocks will not defeat the threat. The Kurdish Peshmerga fighters will defend their self-proclaimed territory, including the oilfields of Kirkuk, and the Shiite militia will fight to protect their oilfields in Basra. Neither faction wants to fight its way into the Sunni triangle to sit atop a violent hornets nest of fanatical insurgents.

It will require once again successfully convincing the Sunni tribal leaders that they will enjoy a better future in a unified Iraq than under the harshly enforced fundamentalist rule within the current ISIS caliphate.

That will be a difficult promise to make and even more difficult to guarantee, as the Sunnis see the allied air effort aimed at supporting Shiite militia and Kurdish Peshmerga.

Neither Ukraine’s massive debt nor Iraq’s factional divisions will be easily resolved, but both need to be addressed or whatever resultant bloodletting transpires will be pointless.

Read the article here: No simple solutions in Ukraine, Iraq crises

Photo Credit: Corporal Jax Kennedy, Canadian Forces Combat Camera

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