The Canadian military is drawing up options for extending its mission in Iraq even as growing political instability threatens to plunge the country into another cycle of bloody violence.
The current mission, which includes hundreds of special forces soldiers, transport and refuelling aircraft, a military hospital and counter-explosive experts, recently entered its fifth year and is scheduled to expire at the end of March.
Yet Brig.-Gen. Colin Keiver, the commander of Joint Task Force-Iraq, expects the Iraqi government will continue to rely on Canada and other international partners for the foreseeable future, which is why proposals are being readied for cabinet approval this fall.
Even with an extension, peace and stability appear a long way off for many Iraqis, thanks to political infighting and deep ethnic and religious divisions across the country.
The country remains without a government four months after parliamentary elections, and there are concerns that tensions between different political groups — some backed by the U.S. and others by Iran — will erupt into civil war
Meanwhile, violent protests have erupted in Basra and other cities in recent weeks over the slow pace of reconstruction and rampant government corruption, while the Islamic State remains a threat despite its supposed defeat last year.
The Canadian Press