Canada’s Chief of Defense Staff General Jonathan Vance told reporters on June 7 that the Canadian military is now committed to training only Iraqi government forces, and no longer training Kurdish Peshmerga.
“Training with the Peshmerga was ceased when it was no longer of any value in terms of the battle against Daesh [ISIS],” the Globe and Mail newspaper quoted Gen. Vance as saying.
Gen, Vance added that Canada is unlikely to proceed with a plan to give millions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Peshmerga and explained that the that Canadian military achieved its mission in Iraq and that the city of Mosul was liberated without the need to transfer weapons to the Kurds.
“I would say right now that arming the Kurds with the plans that we had is unlikely to happen at this juncture … It was not a matter of policy that we would (send the weapons), it was a matter of necessity that we would if we had to and we didn’t have to and we’ve achieved that part of the mission,” Gen Vance said.
The Canadian military worked closely with Peshmerga when it was first deployed in northern Iraq in 2014 as a part of the US-led coalition. Since then, Canadian service members were seen on several occasions wearing batches contain the Kurdish flags. This caused criticism as the official Canadian policy supports a unified Iraq controlled by the central government.
So, Canadian service members quietly removed the flag of Kurdistan from their uniforms, according to the Chronicle Herald.
This major shift in Canada’s policy in Iraq will clearly weaken the stand of the Kurdistan Region Government, which has been counting on the resources of the US-led coalition to strengthen its influence in northern Iraq. Soon, other countries like Germany may take similar steps and ma suspend their aid for Peshmerga.