Canada’s involvement in religious conflicts

For the past two weeks now, Canada has been assisting the US and some European countries to arm Kurdish fighters

For the past two weeks now, Canada has been assisting the US and some European countries to arm Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq so that they can defeat the jihadist extremists fighting under the flag of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), which purports to represent all the Sunni Moslems of the world through its leader, the caliph.

The blitzkrieg kind of offensive of the ISIS forces, who captured large swaths of land on both sides of the Syrian and Iraqi border over the past two months and then their push to the north, threatening the Kurdish autonomous region, alarmed Washington and several other European capitals.

Hence the decision by the Obama administration to launch air strikes and the decision by the US and France to arm the Kurds and Canada’s decision to assist them.

And just last week, an ISIS extremist, understood to be of British origin from his accent, beheaded American journalist James Foley in front of a camera after the demand for ransom for his life was turned down.

The top brass of the world’s most powerful military machine, the Pentagon, has described ISIS as the biggest threat to USA.

This is the West, US in particular, reaping what it has been sowing for the last six decades or so.

It was early in the Cold War years that US led efforts to create CENTO, Central Treaty Organization, bringing together Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, as South Asian counterpart to NATO, in order to encircle the Soviet Union from south with an alliance of Moslem-populated countries. During the years in the run-up to the Islamic Revolution in Iran, President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski stepped up implementation of the “green (Islamic) belt” policy, actively trying to revive religious devotion in what was then Soviet republics of Central Asia. When the Shah of Iran was deposed in 1979, a panicky Soviet leadership invaded Afghanistan in 1980, creating a buffer zone with CENTO countries, similar to what Vladimir Putin is trying to do in Ukraine these days.

Invasion of Afghanistan by Moscow escalated the Cold War; the CIA support to the Mujahidin, the Islamic fighters resisting Soviet troops, in the form of training, money and military hardware, assisted the defeat of the Red Army, but also created a battle-hardened extremist religious formation which has come to haunt the West, first through 9/11, and then several attacks in European capitals, and now as ISIS in Iraq.

But if you are of the opinion that these set of events are unfolding out of control, you might want to reconsider your position.

The game of redrawing the borders in the Middle East has just begun and you can bet on the fact that as these lines are written or read, some high level functionaries somewhere are brainstorming over maps of Middle East on how to extract the maximum benefit from the current state of chaos in the region.

The July 13 edition of the London-based The Independent newspaper carried a spectacularly eye-opening piece, revealing through the statements of the former head of MI6, Britain’s external intelligence service, how the Saudis had been looking forward to the launch of a military campaign by a Sunni jihadist force to wipe out all non-Sunni populations of the Middle East alongside other religious minorities, be it Alawites, Shia or Yazidis. The article also mentioned how the US administration was aware of the plans.

Here we are, some 450 years after the St. Bartholomew massacre, still using religion as a tool of politics and with the same primitive monstrosity.

Zealotry, particularly of the religious kind, is mercurial; you never know what it will target next. When one gets involved in religion-based conflict, then one should be ready to be targeted by one or the other party to that war.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be well advised to remember that current Middle East quagmire is not a world war and he does not need to invite the enmity of jihadists on “high moral ground” foreign policy.