‘Global concern’: Too much at stake for Canada to play role in widening US-Iran conflict, experts say

Canada is likely to play a role in supporting the United States in its retaliatory attacks against Iranian proxies in Syria and Iraq following a deadly drone attack on American troops last weekend in Jordan, some Canadian analysts say.

When asked if Canada would be involved in the growing conflict, the federal government declined to speculate on which it would be.

“Canada strongly condemns the attack by Iranian-backed groups against US forces in Jordan,” Department of National Defense spokesperson Andrée-Anne Poulin said in an email to CTVNews.ca, adding that Canada extends its condolences to the families of fallen Americans. soldiers. “Canada will continue to support our partners in the fight against terrorism in the region, but we will not speculate on possible future military operations at this time.”

A drone strike killed three US soldiers at the base of Tower 22 on January 28. Two Navy SEALs also died after one fell overboard and the other tried to rescue him during a Jan. 11 mission on a ship to seize what U.S. officials said were illicit. Iranian-made weapons destined for the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Washington blamed the attack on the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of militias backed by Iran. Iran denied any involvement in it.

The drone, which the United States determined was made by Iran, also injured more than 40 soldiers at the base in Jordan, Reuters reported.

This satellite photo from Planet Labs PBC shows a military base known as Tower 22 in northeastern Jordan, on October 12, 2023. (Planet Labs PBC via AP) The US military said it launched retaliatory airstrikes on Friday in Iraq and Syria against more than 85 targets linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and the militias they support.

Syrian state media said Friday that a “US aggression” at the sites led to several casualties and injuries.

Canada’s possible role in the conflict

While Ottawa does not speculate on Canada’s possible role in the growing conflict, some observers expect Canada to participate in some way.

Ali Ghanbarpour-Dizboni, chair of the military and strategic studies program at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario, says there is a need for Canada to fulfill its obligations to the United States as its “most important trade and security partner.”

“Canada must somehow show its diplomatic, economic and military support as much as it can,” he said in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca. “Because the United States has the ability to conduct all of those attacks alone, it doesn’t necessarily need Canada. However, the Canadian government needs to show support if the United States needs Canada because it is also about the alliance between the two countries.”

While Ghanbarpour-Dizboni does not believe Canada will participate directly, she said “Canadian forces will participate in some capacity… within the framework of bilateral or multilateral cooperation, providing assistance to US forces.”

Since Canada is already helping NATO partners like Ukraine, he said it will be “another balance that Canada will have to make in terms of resources and commitment.”

Ghanbarpour-Dizboni expects Canada to provide logistical or general assistance that includes airstrikes and drone strikes rather than military combat, since the United States does not want to have troops on the ground.

Walter Dorn, a professor of defense studies at the Royal Military College and the Canadian Forces College in Toronto, believes Canada’s role will be “very minor.” He anticipates it will be similar to Canada’s response in helping the multinational. The coalition defends commercial ships in the Red Sea, a major artery for global trade.

In this photo provided by the Royal Navy, a view of HMS Diamond from the ship’s bridge, firing Sea Viper missiles at an incoming Houthi drone, in the Red Sea, Saturday, January 27, 2024. (LPhot Chris Sellars/Royal Navy via AP)Reuters has reported that Iran-backed Houthi militants have been Attacking international maritime vessels in the Red Sea. in support of the Palestinian militant group Hamas in its war with Israel in the Gaza Strip.

“Canada is likely to support US actions against Iranian-backed groups, given that Canada will likely receive intelligence on the reasons for attacking these groups,” Dorn said in an email to CTVNews.ca, although he cautions that the intelligence information could be wrong. such as the case of incorrect accusations and faulty information about the weapons of mass destruction that then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein possessed two decades ago.

James Horncastle, assistant professor and Edward and Emily McWhinney Professor of International Relations at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, says Canada will likely play an “indirect” role in the conflict.

“These efforts make sense both in terms of Canada’s alliance with the United States and in terms of recognizing that Canada’s direct force projection capabilities are limited,” he said in an email to CTVNews.ca.

As an example, if the United States launches “cyber efforts” against Iran, it anticipates that Canada will provide support, either officially or unofficially, through its membership in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance.

‘A threat to the entire world’

Aurel Braun, a professor of international relations and political science at the University of Toronto and an associate at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, says there is a need for Canada to play a role and support its allies like the United States.

“We are being challenged by Iran. And this is what we need to understand that what is happening inside Iraq, what is happening with the Houthis, what is happening with Hamas, it all comes back to a central direction. And that central direction is …Iran.” he said in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca.

He said Iran has an “incredibly dangerous” and “extremely repressive” regime with a fanatical interpretation of Islam. The regime is undemocratic and has ambitions to dominate the Middle East, destroy its enemies, expel Western powers from the region and acquire nuclear weapons, he added.

“This is not just an American concern, it’s a regional concern. And ultimately, it’s a global concern,” he said. “This regime, if it gets nuclear weapons, will be a threat to the entire world… And so, if we don’t do our part, in a sense we are evading our international responsibilities.

A US Army transport team salutes the remains of US Army Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46, of Carrollton, Georgia, Sgt. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23, of Savannah, Georgia, and Sgt. Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, of Waycross, Georgia, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, Friday, Feb. 2, 2024. Sanders was killed in a drone strike in Jordan on Jan. 28. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)Braun said the United States should target Iran, rather than its proxies. So far, he says, “deterrence” – a psychological relationship that persuades the other party that the costs of attacking it would outweigh the benefits of doing so – is not working. Iranian proxies continue to attack ships in the Red Sea and American ships in the region, he pointed to as some examples.

“The octopus is the Iranian theocracy that has unlimited ambitions and has been very cleverly playing the game of chess where the West has been playing checkers,” Braun said. “So far, we’ve done very poorly… But deterrence is not working. At least not well against Iran.”

Peter Denton, associate professor in the Department of History at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario, has a different opinion. He does not believe Canada should get involved in the conflict with Iran and its proxies.

“Even given that for technical reasons our military support would be largely symbolic, we should not support military action in a theater where we will have no decision-making role in combat, especially using the ethically murky weapons of missiles, rockets and drones. “Denton said in an email to CTVNews.ca. “Besides, the last thing the world needs is another regional conflict: we need wiser heads on all sides if our children are to inherit anything more than a bombed-out, overheated shell of what the world (and civilization) used to be. “

He suggests that Canada should show support for moderates in Iran who are working for peace and prosperity. “More rockets and drones will not bring peace, but they will ensure greater profits for munitions manufacturers, on all sides, and encourage extremist elements to continue the bloodshed,” she said.

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