Madam Speaker, I would like to begin this debate by expressing the gratitude of all of us in the House, in fact, of all Canadians, to the men and women of Canada's armed forces.
Canada's forces have a fearless history of facing down evil. Most recently, in the Levant, it is Canada's air force personnel who have contributed to the allied air war campaign against Daesh that we are proud of. However, our capacity in this regard is modest and it is reflected in the statistics of the air campaign, to which we have contributed a mere 2% of all bombing runs.
It is also significant to note that 75% of our aircraft engaged in this campaign return with their payloads unspent due to the correct and strict rules of engagement preventing bombings that cause collateral civilian deaths. Having no such qualms, Daesh uses civilian settings as human shields. Today, virtually all military and counterterrorism experts have come to the conclusion that this war will not be won from the air. It will be won on the ground.
Daesh is a scourge that must be eliminated. This is a war that must be won. It is time to reassess our strategy and strategically re-examine our military commitment to the allied war effort in ways that match our abilities and can produce results on the ground. That is why our commitment of providing training and arms to local forces, such as the Iraqi military and Kurdish peshmerga fighters, is of critical importance to winning this war.
This past Tuesday, in testimony before the U.S. Senate armed services committee, two former top Obama officials underscored that the U.S. was not winning the fight against the so-called Islamic state. Michèle Flournoy, former under secretary of defence, stated, “I don't think we are fully resourcing a multidimensional strategy.... ...[we] need to play more of a leadership role...in terms of enabling others militarily,...”
However, this war on terror in the Levant has two fronts. Three of the five major terrorist attacks have occurred in NATO countries in recent months and most of the suicide terrorists were born and raised in the west. As a lonely Virginia born and raised teenager, Ali Amin stated in a New York Times interview this past month that, curious about the Islamic State, he went online. There he found a virtual community waiting. He stated:
For the first time, I felt I was not only being taken seriously about very important and weighty topics, but was actually being asked for guidance. By assimilating into the Internet world instead of the real world, I became absorbed in a “virtual” struggle while disconnecting from what was real: my family, my life and my future.
In the west, these sympathizers number in the thousands. For weeks and months, they marinate in the rhetoric and symbolism of the fictitious Islamic State, courtesy of Twitter and other platforms. They are lauded for being wise and told that they are leaders. Finally and tragically, they are recruited to travel as fighters to the Levant or encouraged to commit horrific acts of terror against non-Muslims or, as they are called, infidels, and non-supportive Muslims, so-called apostates, in their home countries.
In June of 2014, a huge surge in foreign recruitment began. By September of this year, estimates are that nearly 30,000 foreign recruits have poured into Syria, a doubling in the number of terrorist fighters. It is estimated that approximately 300 have come from North America, mostly from the United States, but a handful from Canada as well. This coincided with Daesh declaring online that it was now an "Islamic caliphate" or "Islamic state."
Clearly, there is a powerful communications battle taking place. We must not inadvertently feed the false narrative and provide this terrorist death cult with legitimacy by calling it an Islamic state. It is neither Islamic nor a state. In fact, it propagates a perversion of basic tenets of the Muslim faith and can only militarily occupy a decreasing number of cities and towns in Syria and Iraq.
We must join the Arab countries and our closest allies, Great Britain and France, and call it what it is: Daesh, a death cult.
The crisis we face in Syria and Iraq has layers of complexity and has due political significance. Currently, our allied war effort faces new and additional challenges posed by a significant ramping up of involvement by Kremlin President Putin.
As we have learned in recent years, Putin's stated intent and actions are often diametrically opposite. Instead of bombing Daesh, the vast majority of bombs unleashed by the Russian military land on anti-Assad forces and civilian neighbourhoods. The Kremlin is expanding existing and adding to the number of Russian naval and air force military bases in Syria. At the same time, it continues to test NATO partner Turkey's resolve.
Problematically, while for the most part avoiding bombing Daesh, the FSB, Russia's intelligence services, has been funnelling hundreds of fighters from Dagestan into Daesh's ranks. A recent investigation by Novaya Gazeta, one of the few independent newspapers left in Russia, based on extensive fieldwork by Elena Milashina has concluded that, “Russian special services have controlled” the flow of jihadists into Syria. Russia has now become the third biggest source country for foreign Daesh fighters.
The FSB's establishment of a green corridor is meticulously documented by Novaya Gazeta, from FSB recruiters to supply of travel documents. FSB funnels potential terrorists who, instead of causing trouble and blowing things up in Russia, militarily engage NATO forces. This has, in the Kremlin's view, the added benefit of making impossible a Qatari gas pipeline through Syria and Turkey to Europe so as not to challenge Russia's gas chokehold of western European gas markets.
In our war against Daesh, we must find ways to address all of its complexities in the Levant, on the Internet, at home, and geopolitically.
As Republican Senator John McCain, chair of the U.S. Senate armed services committee co-wrote with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham in the Wall Street Journal in regards to the current allied war effort, which focuses on our air campaign, the U.S. needs to “...develop a strategy that is credible...I don't think that is the case today.”
Our government intends to develop a comprehensive strategy to fight this war in ways that make the most effective use of our military resources and with our allies, help rid the Levant of the Daesh death cult and its global tentacles.
I would like to conclude with a quote from U.S. Ambassador to Canada Heyman, this morning on Ottawa radio station CFRA AM 580. He stated:
I think each country is making their own decisions as to how they are going to contribute to this. In my conversations with the Prime Minister and his team, they have a firm commitment to the coalition. It will be robust...and I am confident that we're going to work very well together.
For the above stated reasons, I will be opposing the Conservative motion.