Canada to provide ships and troops for the "International Security Assistance Force"

According to retired Canadian Forces Col. Michel Drapeau, a large number of "Anglo-Saxon troops wouldn't be acceptable in Afghanistan."

(19 November 2001) -- The Government of Canada announced that 1,000 Canadian infantry soldiers are standing by, ready to take part in the so-called International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan. On December 20 the UN Security Council adopted a resolution creating the ISAF with a six-month mission to "protect the interim government of Afghanistan" and "take all necessary measures to fulfil its mandate." The Resolution invokes Chapter 7 of the UN Charter thereby authorizing the ISAF to use force.

As part of the ISAF Canada will be joining 1,500 British troops, which began arriving in Afghanistan days before the Council resolution was even passed, along with contingents from other countries for a total of 3,000 to 5,000 foreign troops, news agencies report. This is in addition to the thousands of foreign troops already in Afghanistan as part of the US-led "Operation Enduring Freedom."

Already 21 countries have indicated their dsire to participate in the ISAF but it seems likely that the great majority of the troops will come from NATO countries. France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy have all offered to contribute significant contingents, along with Australia. Other countries include the Czech Republic, Jordan, Malaysia and Turkey.

According to sources quoted by the Canadian Press, the ISAF may be comprised of only 3,000 troops and therefore Canada will probably not be required to contribute as many as a 1,000 troops. Instead, it will contribute military specialists such as communications officers or engineers.

"Anglo-Saxon troops wouldn't be acceptable in Afghanistan. "A peacekeeping force in any kind of situation that I can think of wants to be international in nature," he said. "It gives it a sort of legitimacy on behalf of the host government and the population in general... And it gives it an air of neutrality."
Michel Drapeau,
retired Canadian Forces Col.
According to retired Canadian Forces Col. Michel Drapeau, a large number of "Anglo-Saxon troops wouldn't be acceptable in Afghanistan." "A peacekeeping force in any kind of situation that I can think of wants to be international in nature," he said. "It gives it a sort of legitimacy on behalf of the host government and the population in general... And it gives it an air of neutrality." According to York University professor Martin Shadwick, "One of the things that gives peacekeeping forces ... enhanced credibility is to have a broad array of countries actually taking part. The more flags the better."

The ISAF will be led by British command and there are no US forces included. The thousands of US troops already in Afghanistan are operating under strictly US command as part of "Operation Enduring Freedom" whose mission remains "to root out terrorism."

According to British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, the ISAF "will include the troops and equipment contributed by other nations and will have the support of the United States." But he said "for reasons of effectiveness," the US Central Command will have authority over the security force "to avoid any conflict between the two forces" that would "interfere with the successful completion of Operation Enduring Freedom." This is done as the US is beginning to redeploy troops from Afghanistan to elsewhere in Central Asia. Besides aything else, the US repeatedly expresses its aim to have proxy forces do the dirty work so as to avoid US casualties.

Furthermore, the fact that the British have already gone ahead with the deployment of their troops as part of the international force while other EU countries are still considering the extent of their engagement indicates that the British are imposing their will on the matter of the EU forces not acting as a single bloc. At the European Union summit in Belgium on December 13-15, a statement allowing for the participation of EU troops in a multinational force in Afghanistan was interpreted by member countries as announcing the creation of a new EU force, according to news reports. But British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said no formal decision had been taken by the 15 member states to join an Afghanistan security force as a bloc. The statement "both fumbled and premature, triggered diplomatic rumblings as governments confirmed, denied or played down reports of a joint EU force poised to set sail for a theatre halfway across the globe," one news agencies report. The diffirence in interpretation regarding the character of the EU forces reveals the sharpening contradictions with the EU over how to strengthen the EU, including its military wing.

The 1,000 Canadian troops will come from the Edmonton-based 3rd Batallion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

However, there is already a contingent of the National Defence's "anti-terrorist unit" JTF-2 operating with other "special forces" on the ground in the Afghan city of Kandahar. The Defense Department said it "does not discuss the activities of JTF-2." Even though the pretext is given that special operations are "secretive" by nature, media commentators also speculate that the Canadian government probably doesn't itself know what they are doing since all ground operations in Afghanistan are under US Central Command.

There are also five Canadian ships in the Arabian Sea and 1,500 troops in the region as part of "Operation Apollo" launched on October 17 to support the US-led bombing campaign in Afghanistan. Altogether it represents the biggest deployment of Canadian military as part of a single foreign mission since the war of aggression against Korea in the 1950s.

Another 3,300 Canadian troops operating in foreign countries are spread out into 14 "peacekeeping missions" around the world.

Claiming that they are on a "humanitarian mission," Canada and Britain are making great efforts to present the ISAF as a peacekeeping force that is welcomed by the people of Afghanistan. To keep the appearance that it is in conformity with international law and in the interests of peace, a lot is said about including "as many flags as possible" and US control of all ground operations is covered up under the pretext that the US is not directly participating. Even the new interim government of Afghanistan established by the Bonn Agreement of December 5 to lead the country for six months has repeatedly expressed reservations regarding the international force. According to news agencies, before the Security Council resolution was passed the incoming Minister of Defence of Afghanistan, Mohammed Fahim said the interim Afghan government insisted that the UN peacekeepers not be authorized to use force, disarm fighters or interfere in Afghan affairs. He called the mission "symbolic" and said Afghans should be responsible for security.

In spite of this, the December 20 resolution of the UN Security Council specifically says that the ISAF will be in charge of all security.

Furthermore, while previous "peace-keeping missions" in which Canada has participated were sanctioned by Chapter 6 of the UN Charter which calls for "peaceful settlement in a conflict" without the use of force, the ISAF deployed in Afghanistan is sanctioned under Chapter 7 which specifically lets UN-authorized troops use force to carry out their mission.

TMLD Daily opposes the ISAF because it is part and parcel of the Anglo-American aggression against Afghanistan. Claiming UN legitimacy, not only are the aggressors now posing as the peacekeepers, but all countries are scurrying to contribute forces so as to claim a say over the spoils. TML Daily reiterates its opposition to the US imperialist "New World Order" and to Canada's participation in US attempts to strengthen its military and strategic interests in Asia. The policy of the US and other big powers of armed intervention and military occupation of various regions in the world in further engandering the cause of world peace and must be vigorously opposed.

Canadian Troops, Out of Afghanistan!
All Foreign Troops Out of Afghanistan and Central Asia!

Source: TML Daily, November 19, 2001 - No. 207

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