Brigadier General Colin Keiver, shown in a this 2018 handout image provided by the Canadian Armed Forces helicopter, flying over Iraq. Canada’s former commander in Iraq says the Islamic State may have been defeated on the battlefield but remains alive and well as an insurgency and could still wield strong influence in the war-torn region. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Canadian Armed Forces

Canadian general says Islamic State defeated but ideology ‘alive and well’

The Iraqi government has been criticized for failing to provide basic services such as water and electricity to its citizens

Canada’s former commander in Iraq says the Islamic State may have been defeated on the battlefield, but the militant group remains alive and well as an insurgency and could still wield strong influence in the war-torn region.

From June 2018 until last month, Brig.-Gen. Colin Keiver served as commander of Joint Task Force Impact, responsible for the Canadian Armed Forces counter-Daesh mission in the Middle East. Daesh is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.

“Daesh or ISIS in Iraq or northeast Syria has been defeated in the sense that they are no longer a quasi-state,” said Keiver in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“They no longer hold any ground, but they are absolutely still alive and well in the background … seeking to expand their influence and undermine the governments of Iraq and other nations.”

Keiver points to the growth of the Daesh ideology in the Pacific, in Indonesia and in Mali. He said these aren’t individuals who have fled Iraq.

“This ideology resonates with certain people for certain reasons, and they latch onto it and they use it as a means to push their agenda and … the terrorism they’re doing,” he said.

“The ideology has in no way at all been defeated. We are a long ways away from the complete elimination of violent extremist organizations in the world.”

The Iraqi government has been criticized for failing to provide basic services such as water and electricity to its citizens and for not cracking down on widespread corruption and discrimination against certain ethnic groups.

Those factors were cited as key contributors to the rise of the Islamic State in 2014. The group used the grievances to gather support and take control of large swaths of territory.

Keiver said Iraq has progressed to a point where security has improved enough that the government can start focusing on improving basic services. But he notes Iraqis won’t be patient for long.

“It’s bought them time and now with that time they need to act in other areas. It is now very much up to the government of Iraq to come together in peace now and start making things happen in the same way they came together in 2014 to defeat Daesh,” he said.

“Summer will be a test for them … How will the government of Iraq react to protests if they happen.”

The Canadian military contingent includes 850 troops spread out across the region. Among them are military trainers, special-forces soldiers and medical personnel in Iraq, trainers in Jordan and Lebanon, and crews with transport planes in Kuwait.

The federal government recently extended the mission to March 2021. Keiver said he has no idea what Canada’s role in the future will be, but he predicts Iraq is going to require ongoing international assistance for the foreseeable future.

“It’s a safe assumption to state that there will be a continuing requirement for assistance in these areas and areas we haven’t even thought of yet,” Keiver said.

“When will we leave Iraq? I don’t know. All I know is that it was the government of Iraq that asked us for help and we responded to that need.”

READ MORE: After Islamic State’s fall, some women who joined plead to come home

READ MORE: Ontario man pleads guilty to trying to join Islamic State militants in Syria

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Smithers man receives two-year sentence for fatal car crash

Over a year after a fatal crash, a Smithers man has been sentenced to two years plus a day in jail.

First Nations push for massive conservation area in northern B.C.

Includes ancestral areas of three Kaska Dena First Nations, just shy of the B.C.-Yukon border

Tahltan reach benefits agreement over Seabridge’s massive KSM gold mine project

$308M agreement provides additional billions for Tahltan jobs, contracts

B.C. court to mull continuing order against Coastal Gaslink pipeline opponents

Coastal GasLink was granted an interim injunction in December following arrests and protests

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

B.C. Interior First Nation family ‘heartbroken’ over loss of young mom

RCMP have released no new information since the June 8, 2019 homicide

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

Most Read