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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Racism wasn’t dealt with properly by school, says Chilliwack graduate

Woman tells story of being verbally assaulted at school for being black

Investigators comb through Chilliwack house following standoff

RCMP say investigation involves report of an early morning shooting

Fraser Valley Health Foundation annouces fifth annual golf tourney

Proceeds will benefit medical facilites across the Valley

No need to get out of your car at food truck festival in Abbotsford and Langley

Annual event takes drive-thru approach during COVID-19 pandemic

Chilliwack dad rescues his two young daughters after truck plunges into Cultus Lake

“I used every single one of my angels that day,” said Dennis Saulnier

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Stray dog with duct tape around muzzle spotted in Abbotsford

Pooch has been spotted over two days, but has escaped capture so far

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Most Read