X
HELP US MAKE SENSE OF OUR COMPLEX WORLD
The Canadian Global Affairs Institute provides credible, open access expertise on global affairs. With your support, we can continue to spark impassioned nation-wide discussions designed to help Canadians better understand their role in the international arena.
S U P P O R T   U S
SUPPORT US

In The Media

Trudeau refuses to weigh in on Kurdish independence, citing Quebec experience

by Lee Berthiaume (feat. Thomas Juneau)

The Canadian Press
September 25, 2017

OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pointed to his own experience in two Quebec referendums to explain why Canada won't weigh in on the push for independence by Iraq's Kurdish population.

Yet silence may not be enough if violence erupts, as many fear, and Canadian military equipment and training in Iraq ends up being used for purposes other than fighting the so-called Islamic State group.

An estimated 4 million people in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, located in the north of the country, were believed to have voted Monday in a controversial referendum that has been widely criticized.

The ballots will take days to count, but early results suggest Kurds have voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence. Kurdish officials say the results will be used to kick-start separation talks.

Many countries have come out strongly against the vote, including the U.S. and most of Iraq's neighbours, as well as Iraq's central government in Baghdad and even the UN.

But while Canadian officials have long claimed to support a united Iraq, the Liberal government has remained relatively silent on the Kurdish referendum.

Many have suspected that Canada was staying quiet because of its own history with referendums in Quebec, which Trudeau all but confirmed during an event in Toronto on Monday.

"As a Quebecer, I'm very sensitive to other countries weighing in on internal decisions around the future of a country or separation questions," Trudeau said.

"I was involved in two referendum campaigns in Canada where we very much appreciated foreign interlocutors not weighing in on what Quebecers should be choosing and what Canadians should be choosing."

The independence referendum is a landmark event for Iraqi Kurds, who suffered under Saddam Hussein's rule, but have enjoyed a large degree of autonomy under the post-Hussein constitution adopted in 2005.

But there have also been persistent fears of violence, given several seemingly intractable land disputes between Baghdad and the Kurdish capital, Erbil, particularly when it comes to ownership of the city of Kirkuk.

The Kurdish government opted to hold the referendum in these so-called disputed territories despite Baghdad's objections and both sides have threatened to use force to defend what they see as theirs.

Canadian officials warned about exactly this in a briefing note to Trudeau in November 2015, saying the war with ISIL had let the Kurds "expand into disputed territory in northern Iraq, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk."

"Should the (ISIL) threat recede, Baghdad will have to contend with a range of land disputes with the (Kurds), as well as strengthened Iraqi Kurdish forces, which have received training and equipment from coalition members, including Canada."

The Liberal government responded by increasing Canada's support to the Kurds, which included tripling the number of Canadian military trainers and promising to provide the Kurds with weapons.

Thomas Juneau, an expert on Middle East politics at the University of Ottawa, said it made sense to help the Kurds against ISIL, but Canada will have to live with the consequences if that support is used for other purposes.

"We are supporting the Kurds," he said. "If violence breaks out we are taking a side. We would have to live with that reality."


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTERS
 
SEARCH
EXPERTS IN THE MEDIA

Targeting COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

by Global News Morning (feat. Heidi Tworek), Global News, July 29, 2021

China ‘demands’ on Taiwan, regional issues seek to constrain US action

by Sarah Zheng (feat. Stephen Nagy), South China Morning Post, July 29, 2021

Canada approved deal to sell $74-million worth of explosives to Saudi Arabia

by Steven Chase (feat. Thomas Juneau), The Globe and Mail, July 27, 2021

Diplomatie Canada-États-unis : qu’est-ce qui fait un bon ambassadeur?

par Olivier Mercure (avec Ferry de Kerckhove), Y a pas deux matins pareils, July 27, 2021

COVID-19: Province shifting vax strategy to reach those without a dose

by Tyler Orton (feat. Heidi Tworek), Business in Vancouver, July 27, 2021

Point Roberts businesses say border situation worst possible outcome

by Nicole Jennings (feat. Laurie Trautman), MyNorthwest, July 23, 2021

Canada offers ‘path to protection’ for Afghan aides

by Aidan Chamandy (feat. Denis Thompson), iPolitics, July 23, 2021

U.S. extends Canada border restrictions through Aug. 21

by Alex Harring (feat. Laurie Trautman), American Military News, July 22, 2021

How Justin Trudeau One-Upped Joe Biden

by Michael Bociurkiw (feat. Colin Robertson), Action News Now, July 20, 2021


LATEST TWEETS

HEAD OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 1800, 150–9th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 3H9

 

OTTAWA OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 5S6

 

Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: [email protected]
Web: cgai.ca

 

Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.

 

© 2002-2021 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001

 


Sign in with Facebook | Sign in with Twitter | Sign in with Email