Standing Member
Nov 19, 2008
Nakusp, BC
Returning Syrian Refugees Were Fleeing US Proxy War, Not “Assad”

A recent BBC segment titled, “The Syrians returning home after years of fleeing war,” contradicted 8 years of the British state media’s narratives regarding the war in Syria.
A synopsis of the short BBC video segment would read:
After years of people fleeing Syria and its civil war, there are now long queues to enter the country each day. Jordan opened its Jaber border crossing last October after Syrian government troops defeated rebels who had controlled the other side.
Now several thousand people pass through each day. They include small-scale merchants reviving cross-border trade and returning Syrian refugees who hope to rebuild their lives.
Huge numbers of Syrians have already returned to Syria – specifically to areas government forces have cleared of Western-armed and backed terrorists. This includes Aleppo, Homs, and Daraa.
The flood of returning refugees to government-held areas indicates Syrians were fleeing the US-backed proxy war against the Syrian government – not the Syrian government itself.



Time Out
Mar 16, 2007
Red Deer AB
US denies Russia-protected buses access to Syria's Rukban camp to evacuate refugees – Russian MoD

The US has rejected a joint request by Moscow and Damascus to let them evacuate refugees stranded in the Rukban camp within the US-controlled zone in Syria to areas under Damascus' control, the Russian military said.
The first column of buses accompanied by Russian military police set off for the camp on Friday. They were supposed to enter through one of the two mobile checkpoints opened by the Russian and Syrian forces last month and ferry the refugees to other parts of Syria for permanent resettlement.


Time Out
Mar 16, 2007
Red Deer AB
THE VETO: Exposing CNN, Al Jazeera, Channel 4, western media propaganda war in Syria

I met journalist and friend Rafiq Lutf and cameraman Abdul-Mun’aim Arnous in January 2018 and I was honoured when Rafiq asked me to work with him on his film project, The Veto.

As Dr Shaaban said to me in August 2016, “Western propaganda is paid for in Syrian blood”. This is true. The horrifying bloodshed and loss of life in Syria could never have happened without the colonial media manufacturing consent for another illegal war against a Sovereign nation.

The Veto tracks the evolution of the propaganda campaign waged by Western media against Syria. From Baba Amr in Homs 2011/2012 until the modern day “propaganda construct” – the NATO-member-state funded White Helmets.

It honours Russia and China’s vetoes that have consistently defended Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the UN.

George Orwell said ““The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” Western media has been tasked with writing the history of the Syrian conflict to serve the aggressors in the US Coalition of terrorism. As Dr Shaaban also told me:

“The US alliance and its media are focusing on our history, material history, cultural history, identity, our army. Any power that keeps you as an entire state, or any statesman that represents strength or unity will be demonized and destroyed.”

The Veto exposes the criminal intentions of Western media and it archives the progression of the propaganda war waged by the West against Syria. Syrians are writing the history of the Syrian conflict because Syria and her allies have courageously resisted the Imperialist machine.

As Rafiq has said so eloquently “ we are the Veto” and we must use it against the Industrial Media Complex in the West.

Syria’s history belongs to the Syrians and Syria’s final victory must ensure that Western media is never again given the power to destroy a nation, divide its people and promote international terrorism both military and economic.


Time Out
Mar 16, 2007
Red Deer AB
when will we learn /s
Why is that in the future for you when it is in the past for everybody else knows we publish fake photos??


Time Out
Mar 16, 2007
Red Deer AB
These Russians?? Where is the true version from CNN??
Daesh Cell Led by Foreign Emissaries Busted in Moscow Region - Security Service

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - A secret Daesh* cell consisting of seven people has been exposed in the Moscow region, Russia's Investigative Committee said in a statement Monday.

The FSB press service stated that the cell was controlled by foreign emissaries, adding that citizens of Russia, Central Asia, and Caucasian republics were involved in the activities of the cell.
Meanwhile, the Russian Investigative Committee added that the apprehended Daesh members had been recruiting new adherents and calling for attacks on police personnel.
"Seven people suspected of organizing [the cell] and participating in the activities of the terrorist organization were detained… The participants carried out propaganda work to involve new supporters in the organization's activities, including calling for attacks on law enforcement officers," the committee said.
READ MORE: Jihadists Planned to Attack Russian Police, Execs and Depart for Syria — FSB
Last week, Russia's Federal Security Service announced they have detained five members of a Daesh cell, as well as jihadists in several regions of the country.
It said the detainees had been planning to carry out a series of attacks on businessmen and then "go to the Syrian Arab Republic to participate in hostilities".


Hall of Fame Member
Apr 17, 2017
Twin Moose Creek
Why is that in the future for you when it is in the past for everybody else knows we publish fake photos??

Are you trying to come on to me AGAIN? How long before you try sweet talking me with stuff to shove up my anus? Why not do something productive like go outside and help stuck drivers out of the snow there?


Time Out
Mar 16, 2007
Red Deer AB
It all melted, unlike your cold, cold heart.
Father of Aleppo boy reveals truth behind image of 'Boy in the Ambulance'

The father of the young Syrian boy, who captured the world's attention last August when images of him sitting in an ambulance after an air strike were widely circulated across the Internet, exposed the truth about how the "white helmets" had used his son and lied to the world in an interview with CGTN.


Executive Branch Member
Jan 26, 2017
Once 'reconstruction' in Syria starts in earnest the sanctions against Iran will turn to vapor.

POOR FOOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You have not noticed that Asad is still in power!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And you have not noticed that the Kurds are resuming their fight with Turkey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And you have not noticed that Hamas and Hezzbollah are not acceptable to most westerners!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And yes- I know...............................

Our idiot Boy Justin sends Cdn aid to Hamas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But there is good reason to think that HAMAS AID CRAP WILL STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After the October election!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What I am suggesting to you is that there WILL NOT be any major reconstruction in Syria in the near future!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The various Muslim groups hate each other so much...........................................................

and HATE THE WEST AS WELL...................................................

that any real cooperation occurring between the various groups is RIDICULOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Executive Branch Member
Jan 26, 2017
Russia doesn't have the billions to pour unless they steal it from somewhere else. Maybe, they'll "liberate" Switzerland, first.

Oh you poor NOT SO Curious Cdn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You have FAILED to notice...................................

that Russian dictators can very often FIND money for pet projects...............................

simply by oppressing their people a little more and blaming the Yankees!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Executive Branch Member
Jan 26, 2017

OH Cliffy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If ONLY Our idiot Boy and his loser LIE-berals would implement that plan on vile, corrupt, third world native reserves!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A whole lot of people would be MUCH HAPPIER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First Nation Councils have demonstrated that they are too CORRUPT AND INCOMPETENT TO GOVERN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First Nations require MAJOR oversight by white govt - without which natives on reserves will continue to have all manner of trouble with drugs and alcohol and violence and suicide!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How sad that you are so screwed up you are actively FIGHTING those who would help you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here is an article asking an obvious question and then avoiding the truthful answer! With some comments of my own in brackets):

Aboriginal affairs: Is it all just ‘a bloody farce’?

(Answer to that is YES!)

By Gordon Chong. First posted: Saturday, June 10, 2017 09:34 PM EDT | Updated: Saturday, June 10, 2017 09:42 PM EDT

Inquiry into missing, murdered indigenous women to cost nearly $14 million more than expected.

(Gee, there is a surprise- a useless LIE-beral feel good exercise that also costs a BUNDLE more than expected!)

Families of missing, murdered women feel left out from inquiry: advocates

(What kind of screw up dog and pony show are these LIE-berals running? And how did they convince natives that anything good would come from their political showboating?)

Are we ready to reconcile with our First Nations?

(Reconcile? Are we to apologize because way too many natives have decided to be drug addled drunkards who beat their spouses and neglect their kids?)

Bill Wilson, a hereditary chief and father to federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, recently and justifiably called the disorganized inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls “a bloody farce”.

(Again I ask: “what else did natives expect? There is no new evidence, no new facts, no way to alter reality without getting set up for a slander suit! Twenty years ago cops could solve well over 90 percent of murder cases but that number has dropped into the high 60`s or very low 70`s with the rise of gangs and organized crime. Such groups can cover for each other and stymie the best of homicide cops! Add in the risky life choices of most of the missing women and you have a master plan for a LOT of unsolved cases so why did publicity Hog LIE-berals suggest any other result would occur?)

This after more than 30 advocates, indigenous leaders and family members wrote the chief commissioner last month suggesting the two-year, $53.8 million inquiry was in “serious trouble,” that there was broad and deep concern over poor communication and slow progress.

(Again-what progress did native leaders expect with no new facts and no new information?)

Having crossed swords with Pierre Trudeau in the 1980s over aboriginal amendments to Canada’s Constitution, and won, Justin Trudeau’s government should pay heed to Wilson.

Instead, the younger Trudeau’s government has blithely ventured into the murky politics of aboriginal affairs and its maladroitness deserves Wilson’s rebuke.

However, there’s no mistaking aboriginal issues in this country have long been politicized and divisive.

(For too long native affairs have been the preserve of divisive and irresponsible persons.)

It’s even fair to suggest there are those who feel the entire aboriginal affairs file is mired in politics and is a bloody farce.

On one side are the hapless elected officials who really cannot bring themselves to act decisively and on the other, the astute and increasingly aggressive aboriginal leaders who sense and exploit “white guilt”.

(Yes! Two faced hypocrites on BOTH sides of the fence!)

Perry Bellegarde, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations and an experienced politician, has said repeatedly “Canada is our (aboriginals’) land.”

(Well yes- IT WAS their land! But now natives MUST share- especially if they want access to money from white tax payers- and since natives would mostly STARVE OR FREEZE without welfare money- natives are under pressure to be sensible!)
Bellegarde cites the numbered Treaties that were negotiated, and amended as they were negotiated, the Constitution, as well as the United Nations (unfortunately now dominated by venal, corrupt dictators) Declaration of Indigenous Rights as evidence.

There’s no question colonial powers (Britain, France and Spain) expanded their empire in what was a new land occupied by aboriginal tribes.

European powers also frequently went to war with one another to supplant the territory of other nations.

The aboriginal tribes who lived in what is now Canada and the United States before the arrival of the Europeans, had done the same thing — fighting and displacing one another for territory.

(NO saints amongst either natives or whites!)

Canada and the U.S. took different approaches to aboriginal “reconciliation”, though the Fathers of Confederation and their American counterparts like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, were all ruthlessly single-minded in their determination to forge a unified nation from one coast to the other.

However, whereas the Americans decided that actual genocide was the only way to success, John A. Macdonald concluded assimilation through education was a better alternative.

(IN other words- those who choose to condemn MacDonald are ignoring his true influence!)

In Canada, Christian churches were given the responsibility of educating aboriginals in the residential schools.

(How can it be wrong to train young natives in skills they will need to survive in the new culture and new economy?)

Some of these clergy abused their authority, despite the initial intention to “integrate” Canada’s aboriginal population.

(There is no doubt the program was veery badly managed- but this does not make the goals wrong!)

Tragic consequences followed.

As historian Desmond Morton has said: “Macdonald opted for the best instrument he or his age could conceive for helping the people of our First Nations to gain access to the European cultures that had and would dominate the country he had helped to create and unite.”

(The best evidence suggests that whites hoped that natives would adopt a Metis style life- in which people would live for much of the year in cabins and work as farmers- but would do a little hunting and fishing as opportunity presented. Both whites and natives of the time believed that the Metis lifestyle would be the best option for natives!)

As a consequence of the bigotry of the time, Canada’s aboriginals were viciously subjected to shameful atrocities.

(It is srong to blame people of previous centuries because they do not understand our current values!)

But, should the current, continuous political theatre and stage-managed public hearings to dredge up the painful past be our prime focus?

Or, would it be better to deal with the current tragedies that make daily headlines?

That is, the poverty, third world living conditions, lack of infrastructure and economic opportunity, drug and alcohol addiction and unacceptable suicide rates that afflict too many reserves, too many First Nations’ families.

(LIE-berals go to great lengths to AVOID discussing gross corruption on Cdn reserves! And they have made it clear they have NO interest in maling ANY sensible changes!)

Would it not be better to focus on consolidating these communities closer to services, improving infrastructure on remote ones and educating the next generations so they can successfully participate in the Canadian mainstream?

(It’s a nice thought but natives will NOT cooperate in consolidating communties! They are so hostile to whites that any suggestion made by whites will be rejected regardless of the logic behind it- LIE-berals have convinced natives they are `victims` and that thyey have only to trust LIE-berals and heaven will come to them!)

The aboriginal experience has been, and remains, a tragedy that has, unfortunately, descended into a political farce.

It is ironic, as well, that some self-proclaimed public intellectuals advocate ancestral language and cultural retention for a sense of identity, but have personally abandoned them, and fully integrated and immersed themselves in one or both of Canada’s official languages.

(One may offer a sentimental support for native languages as it is a part of ancient culture hut it is NOT useful to promote obscure native languages at the expense of English and French ability in the modern world!)

Another instructive serving of hypocrisy and hubris from on high.

Yes, it’s time to stop this “bloody farce"!

(The KEY is ending endemic corruption on reserves- it is this political poison that helps persuade natives that white life is all wrong and bad since it is white/LIE-beral politicians who have decided not to deal with that corruption! LIE-berals are making us all look bad!)


Hall of Fame Member
Apr 17, 2017
Twin Moose Creek
Can Canadian soldiers stop the next Iraq insurgency?

Latifiya has never fully accepted the end of Saddam Hussein’s rule. The predominantly Sunni town 40 km south of Baghdad was a key launching ground for the insurgency that began in 2004 and descended into a civil war. It was part of the ostentatiously named Triangle of Death that included the towns of Mahmudiya to the north and Yusufiya to the west.
In 2004, the insurgents here were not yet part of the growing al-Qaeda in Iraq network. They called themselves the Honourable Resistance, Saddam loyalists who lost their power and influence after the collapse of the regime following the U.S. invasion and the chaos it triggered. But in time, Latifiya would become a hotbed of al-Qaeda support, and during the expansion of ISIS across Iraq and Syria it would again shelter its fighters. Mahmudiya was first controlled by the Shia Mahdi Army, led by the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, but eventually it also fell to al-Qaeda.
During my first visit here in 2004, I was captured by members of the Honourable Resistance, held for hours, questioned, threatened with death and, luckily, eventually released. In late April, both villages are again buzzing with activity, though now it’s not militancy that rules the streets but the routine bustle of everyday life. The rat-a-tat-tat of hammers hitting nails as the towns rebuild has replaced the gunfire that once terrified its residents. Still, the wounds from those years of hatred have yet to fully heal.
Karim Kadhim remembers those days well. The 42-year-old principal at Ali al Wardi School recalls how, during the Saddam era, Sunni and Shia in Mahmudiya lived together in peace. But the U.S. invasion in 2003, he says, tore apart the social fabric. Shia in the town turned to the Mahdi Army for protection, while Sunnis turned to al-Qaeda.
Neighbours fought each other. “Terrorism is like a virus,” he says. “One person calls another person a terrorist. Then that person calls the other person a terrorist. Eventually, everyone is a terrorist to someone.”
At the graduation ceremony of his sixth graders, Kadhim points out that those same people who once pointed fingers at each other and called each other terrorists are now sitting together drinking tea again. He nods to an old man in a black and white kaffiyeh. “That is Sheikh Hikmat Kaven,” he says. “He supported al-Qaeda at that time.”
Kaven turns to Kadhim with a wry smile: “When they first came they said they were fighting in the name of God, and we believed them,” he says in his defence. “They said they were here to fight the Americans, so we helped them. But then they started fighting us, so we helped the Americans fight them.”
ISIS, Kaven adds, was a different kind of beast. Its brutality has been a wake-up call. “We were stupid back then, but now we’ve learned our lesson. These people do not care about us. They want power and they will kill whoever stands against them.”
The peace, however, remains precarious. The Shia militias, known as the Hashd al Shaabi, some with loyalties to Iran, now control Mahmudiya, as the Mahdi Army once did. And a terrifying but familiar force is lurking again: ISIS sleeper cells roam the fields around the town, with some sheikhs in the area rumoured to be working with them.
It wasn’t so long ago that U.S. President Donald Trump announced the “total defeat” of ISIS. Its death was touted as a major victory over the Salafi-jihadist project, and the end of the caliphate would take the steam out of the ideology behind it, proponents of this view boasted.
Only it hasn’t. The caliphate is gone but the hardened fighters are not. Its networks remain intact, its financing secure and its global appeal still startlingly effective. The Sri Lanka bombings—one of the worst terror attacks since 9/11*—offered the terrifying evidence. Even its leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, once thought either dead or gravely injured, appeared in a video at the end of April looking plump and in charge.
Thousands of fighters who fled Syria after the fall of the caliphate have now fanned out throughout Syria and Iraq—like those once again patrolling the Triangle of Death—where sectarian divides, corruption and foreign meddling have created an ideal setting for an ISIS resurgence.
It’s in this dangerous void that Canada is now operating in Iraq, the lead country in a new NATO training mission made up of 470 troops from 22 nations tasked with preparing Iraqi security forces for a difficult fight.
Just over 200 soldiers, mostly from Quebec, have joined the more than 800 Canadian service members, including Special Forces, already operating in the country, making Iraq Canada’s signature foreign military intervention, with a commitment running into 2021.
The goal, commanders on the ground say, is straightforward: ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS and help raise an Iraqi army that is self-sufficient and capable of defending Iraq against any future threats. But the recent history of Iraq—and of ISIS—suggests a hard road ahead. And time is running short.
When Lt. Jakob Kaemmerer received word he would be deployed to Iraq, his first thoughts were consumed by the excitement of his first overseas deployment. The 24-year-old Mississauga, Ont., native had always dreamed of joining the military. After two years in university, he took advantage of the Regular Officer Training Program to pay for his degree in civil engineering and was posted to the 5 Combat Engineer Regiment in Valcartier, Que.
At the time, ISIS was at its height, controlling a huge swath of territory in Iraq and Syria. Canadian Special Forces were embedded with Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq’s north and preparing for the siege of Mosul, the ISIS caliphate’s crown jewel.
From the safety of his base in Quebec, Kaemmerer found it difficult to wrap his head around ISIS’s brutality. What he understood was what his training in explosive ordnance disposal had taught him: the tactics they used were deadly. Defeating them would mean people like him—combat engineers—would have to put their lives on the line.
During the Mosul offensive, ISIS did not disappoint. Booby traps and improvised explosive devices became the scourge of Iraqi counterterrorism units on the front lines. Thousands lost their lives, or if they were lucky, only a limb or two.
In the end, ISIS was defeated and, as its caliphate crumbled, Kaemmerer came to believe the group was gone for good. Its last stand in eastern Syria felt like an ending, he says—the condition of the ragged fighters limping out of the battle zone a just fate for the crimes they had committed.
But when he arrived in Iraq in February, Kaemmerer discovered a very different reality. “I didn’t know the extent to which ISIS was still present in Iraq,” he says. “I thought they’d been completely wiped out. I got here and heard they might be coming back as an insurgency, that they’ve come back into Iraq from Syria.”
Based out of the sprawling Taji military installation less than 30 km north of Baghdad, Kaemmerer has had some time to rethink what his mission to Iraq means. In the beginning, he saw it merely as a training mission to help the Iraqi Military Engineering School modernize its course curriculum. Now, with an insurgency looming, his role feels more critical. Kaemmerer heads up a team of Canadians deployed with the NATO Mission in Iraq, tasked with helping the Iraqi army improve its capabilities. His specialty is route clearance—an innocuous-sounding name for a job that, in the fight against an enemy like ISIS, means exposing oneself to its deadliest tactic: roadside bombs.
The Iraqi soldiers he has worked with, he says, have ample experience when it comes to improvised explosive devices. “As individuals, they’re fine,” he says. “But the way they do it is by habit. What we’re trying to show them is that if they have better procedures and work together as a team, they will stand a better chance of saving lives—not just their own lives, but civilian lives.”
In its current form, ISIS has been active for only five or six years, but its origins stretch back at least to 2004, shortly after the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
At that time, the first signs were emerging of what would evolve into one of the world’s most brutal civil wars. The sectarian hatreds unleashed by the U.S. invasion were still in their infancy, but all the mistakes that led to them had already been made. The original sin, of course, was the invasion itself, predicated on false intelligence and executed with such disregard for a post-war strategy that it seemed almost as if the goal itself was chaos.
First came the looting: as American soldiers watched, Iraqis went to work dismantling Iraq’s precious history and culture. Nothing was spared: works of art disappeared along with priceless relics; Saddam’s palaces were ransacked, government buildings stripped bare. Then came the catastrophic Coalition Provisional Authority, led by Paul Bremer. Under his tutelage, the Iraqi army was disbanded, its soldiers and officers left jobless. Secret military prisons sprouted up around Iraq where Sunni men were herded and tortured. It was here that al-Qaeda in Iraq—what would become ISIS—recruited its most hardened fighters.
Random attacks and the deaths of a few U.S. soldiers began to unsettle the occupying forces. And with support for the war already precarious back home, orders came down to keep the locals at a distance. By August, the U.S. had retreated behind blast walls and barbed wire. Any hint of goodwill was gone.
In 2014, when ISIS swept through predominantly Sunni Mosul, the poorly trained and largely Shia army collapsed. ISIS fighters, numbering in the hundreds, easily drove out Iraqi soldiers numbering in the thousands.
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the current commander of the NATO mission, says the Iraqis would like to avoid a repeat.
“There’s a realization at all levels that to defeat ISIS you must invest in the long term,” he says, speaking at his office in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone. “The Iraqi Ministry of Defence understands that to do this means they have to invest in capabilities, in expertise, to grow their own security institutions so that they are able to withstand the resurgence of violent extremist organizations.”
In shaping the NATO mission, Fortin has employed a distinctly Canadian “whole of government” approach. Teams like Kaemmerer’s engineers will focus on training Iraqis at their combat engineering and explosive ordnance disposal schools so they can take the lead in training the next generation of Iraqi soldiers. The goal is sustainability, so missions like Operation Inherent Resolve—in which an unknown number of Canadian Special Forces are still reportedly embedded with the Iraqi army hunting ISIS sleeper cells—can finally come to an end.
Other Canadians are working directly with the Iraqi ministries of defence, interior and health to help build institutional capacities so that the whole system can operate efficiently. But the challenges are daunting.
“In many ways now we are in a race to the future,” Brig.-Gen. Colin Keiver, Canada’s top commander with Operation Inherent Resolve, tells me by telephone from the coalition headquarters in Kuwait. “It is about building Iraqi capacity so they are able to deal with an ISIS now trying to establish itself as an insurgency. We’ve seen attacks increase, whether it be improvised explosive devices or small arms.”
Then there are the sectarian divides, which continue to plague Iraq. The fight against ISIS has only deepened those divides after Iraq’s Shia leaders called for the creation of militias to take on the Sunni extremist group. Those militias were key to ISIS’s defeat and have now embedded themselves in the Iraqi security services, refusing to disband.
In Latifiya, Sheikh Modhir al Janabi has a reputation for anti-government sentiment. It was the al Janabi tribe that captured me in 2004, and it remains on the cusp of returning to the insurgency. At his palatial meeting hall, incongruously set amid ragged fields on the outskirts of the village, the sheikh remains openly distrustful of the Iraqi government as well as any foreign presence in Iraq.
He is also an avid conspiracy theorist. Over the course of one hour, he stitches together wild tales of U.S. and Iraqi government support for al-Qaeda. He claims the U.S. created ISIS as an excuse to come back to Iraq and that the U.S. plan all along has been to break the back of Iraqis to take control of the country.
“It’s like the story of the elephant,” he says. “It’s very difficult to train an elephant. So what can you do? You wear black; you dig a hole in the ground. When you trap the elephant, you start to beat him and treat him badly. He will cry, that elephant. Then you leave and return dressed in white. You offer the elephant water; you clean him up and treat him tenderly. Then the elephant will listen to you. This is what the Americans have done in Iraq.”
The Iraqi government receives even less respect. According to al Janabi, it was Nouri al Maliki, the former Iraqi prime minister, who orchestrated a prison break in 2013 in which hundreds of al-Qaeda prisoners were set free, reinforcing ISIS ranks. In fact, the incident was carried out by ISIS itself, part of a strategy Baghdadi announced in 2012 to free its imprisoned fighters.
But for al Janabi, being ruled by what he calls an “Iranian proxy” from Baghdad—referring to the feeling among many of Iraq’s Sunnis that the central government favours the Shia majority—is unacceptable. “We brought peace to Latifiya ourselves,” he says, “without the army, without the Americans. But now the army is back. They have these checkpoints again. That’s a problem for us.”
Al Janabi is not entirely off the mark. Iraq’s government, particularly under Maliki, has been criticized for developing close ties to the Iranians and inflaming sectarian tensions. The army has been accused of mistreating Sunnis, though its reputation is beginning to improve, while the Shia militias have developed a penchant for extrajudicial killings and believing all Sunnis are terrorists.
The issue, Brig.-Gen. Keiver says, is front and centre for the coalition. “We’ve seen tension; we’ve seen open conflict frankly between some of the PMFs and the Iraqi security forces,” he says, using another acronym for the militias. “We’ve seen some of the PMFs engage in criminality to support their activities in terms of vehicle checkpoints. It’s a big challenge and it’s one the Iraqi government has absolutely got to wrestle with.”
At the Taji military base, the Shia militias pose a direct threat. Canadian forces, along with their international coalition partners, are housed in what’s known as the Green Zone, protected by their own blast walls and sentries. Outside the Green Zone is the Amber Zone, where the Iraqi military and some Shia militias are based. For the training, Kaemmerer and his team must leave the Green Zone and travel a short distance to the Iraqi Military Engineering School in the Amber Zone.
Members of the force protection team that accompanies them tell me their biggest concern is the Shia militias. “We see them sometimes watching us,” one of the team members says, requesting anonymity. “They take notes on our movements. We’re not sure what they’re up to.”
The Shia militias are only one of the dangers Canada faces. The NATO mission may be “non-combat” only, according to Maj.-Gen. Fortin, but some of what Canada is doing rides the fine line between passive training support and active combat.
In taking the lead at this initial stage, for instance, Canada has also contributed three Griffon transport helicopters that provide logistical support for Canadian forces as well as other members of the coalition. Two of the helicopters are in the air virtually every day on multiple flights between bases, often travelling low over open terrain where there is risk of an ISIS presence.
Canada also provides a force protection unit in Baghdad that is tasked with escorting civilians and other members of the NATO mission around the city.
“We’re one of the few countries actively involved in doing security in Baghdad,” says Maj. Nicholas George, the commander of the unit. “We’re out on the streets every day, but our relationship with the Iraqi forces is excellent and the intelligence we receive from them gives us a very good understanding of the threats we face.”
Those threats are likely to increase in the coming weeks and months. Baghdad is calm for the time being, but locals say they fear an ISIS insurgency could break out at any moment.
Maj.-Gen. Fortin is adamant that regardless of what happens, Canada’s role in the NATO training mission will not change. “There will be no mission creep,” he says. “Our goal here is to help the Iraqis prepare for any contingency, including the emergence of another extremist group, whether it’s ISIS or the Son of ISIS or whatever they might call themselves.”


Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
B.C. man detained in Syria last year freed after Lebanese mediation
Canadian Press
August 9, 2019
August 9, 2019 8:49 AM EDT
Canadian citizen Kristian Lee Baxter, who was being held in Syria, reacts during a news conference, after being released, in Beirut, Lebanon Aug. 9, 2019.Mohamed Azakir / REUTERS
BEIRUT — A British Columbia man who was detained in Syria last year after seeking adventure in the war-ravaged country has been released.
Kristian Lee Baxter appeared at a press conference in Beirut on Friday.
He broke down in tears saying he thought he “would be there forever.”
Lebanon’s general security chief, Abbas Ibrahim, says Lebanese mediation helped secure Baxter’s release.
Ibrahim said Baxter had been held in Syria since last year for “violating Syrian laws.” He didn’t elaborate.
A statement from Global Affairs Canada says the government is “relieved” at Baxter’s release.
The statement says consular services will continue to be provided to Baxter and his family.
Baxter’s mother, Andrea Leclair told The Canadian Press last January, that her son messaged her daily because she was worried after he arrived in Syria on Nov. 26, but he went silent after his last message on Dec. 1.
Leclair described her son as “a world traveller and adventurer” and said he visited a village near the border of Lebanon at the invitation of his girlfriend’s brother-in-law.
— With files from The Associated Press