By Murray Brewster, Canadian Press, in National Post, January 24, 2013
OTTAWA — The Conservative government has cobbled together a nascent political consensus with the Opposition NDP that should permit an extended deployment of Canada’s heavy-lift military cargo plane, which is ferrying war equipment into Mali.
New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair agreed Sunday to allow the air force’s C-17 cargo plane to continue assisting French and African forces as they battle al-Qaeda-linked militants, said NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday the government is looking at “whether and how” to extend its support of France, which launched an offensive Jan. 10 to dislodge the terrorist organization from northern Mali.
Harper said he has reached out to colleagues and opposition parties to build consensus on the next steps in the unfolding crisis, but made it clear that “direct” military involvement in the form of troops is still not in the cards.
“Anything we do, I would like a broad Canadian consensus behind that,” Harper told a news conference in Cambridge, Ont.
“I do think that it is important to help this mission, but at the same time I think we’ve been very clear — and I think this reflects Canadian opinion — that while we’re prepared to help, we don’t want to see a direct Canadian military mission to Mali.”
Mulcair told Harper he supports the decision to send the transport plane, and even favours the French intervention, Dewar said.
But in exchange for that support, the prime minister will allow the House of Commons foreign affairs committee to monitor and debate Canada’s evolving role in the conflict, which experts say has the potential to be a protracted event.
Dewar said parliamentary oversight should lead to less confusion, and hopefully clear up some of the contradictory signals coming from the government. Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird have been at odds publicly about what form Canada’s contribution would take.
Just yesterday, in her testimony to the Senate on the debacle in Benghazi, Hillary Rodham Clinton, pointedly referred to the conflict in Mali as potentially one of the more dangerous facing the world today and in the short-term future. Other observers say that the terrorists have recovered loads of weapons, of all types, from the fallen government of the Libyan dictator, Gaddafi. Clearly, the French government considers the threat from radical Islamists to their former colony Mali to be serious, and yet, as Clinton explained, the northern part of the country is filled with mountains and caves, 'sounds reminiscent' said Clinton referring directly to Afghanistan.
There are some insights that might help from Bernard Lewis, in his book, The Crisis of Islam.
For bin Ladin and those who follow him, this is a religious war, a war for Islam against infidels, and therefore, inevitably, against the United States,the greatest power is the world of the infidels.(p.xv)...
Islamic history, for Muslims, has an important religious and also legal significance, since it reflects the working our of God's purpose for His community--those that accept the teachings of Islam and obey its law. (p.xix)...
In the Western world, the basic unit of human organization is the nation, in American but not European usage virtually synonymous with country. This is then subdivided in various ways, one of which is by religion. Muslims, however, tend to see not a nation subdivided into religious groups but a religion subdivided into nations.(p.xx)...
In the early centuries of the Muslim era, the Islamic community split up into many states, the ideal of a single Islamic polity persisted.(p.xxi)...
Middle Easterners' perception of history is nourished from the pulpit, in the schools and by the media, and although it may be--indeed, often is,--slanted and inaccurate. it is nevertheless vivid and powerfully resonant.(p.xxiv)
On February 23, 1998, Al-Quds al-'Arabi, an Arabic newspaper published in Lond, printed the full text of a "declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad agains the Jews and the Crusaders. According to the peper, the statement was faxed to them, with the signatures of Usama bin Ladin and the leaders of Jihad groups in Egypt, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The statement--a magnificent piece of eloquent, at times poetic Arabic prose--reveals a version of history that most Westerners will find unfamiliar....The declaration begins with an exordium, quoting the more militant passages in the Que'an and in the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, and then continues: "Since God laid down the Arabian peninsula, created its desert, and surrounded it with its seas, no calamity has even befalled it like these Crusader hosts that have spread in it like locusts, crowding its soil, eating its fruits, and destroying its verdure; and this at a time when the nations contend against the Muslims likes diners hostlin around a bowl of food.
From here the declaration goes on to talk of the need to understand the situation and act to put it right. The facts, is says, are known to everyone and are set forth under three main headings.
First, For more than seven years the United States is occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of its territories, Arabia, plundering its riches, overwhelming its rulers, humiliating its people, threatening its neighbours, and using its bases in the peninsula as a spearhead to fight against the neighboring Islamic peoples.
Though some in the past have disputed the true nature of his occupation, the people of Arabia in their entirety have now recognized it.
There is no better proof of this than the continuing American aggression against the Iraqi people, launched from Arabis despite its rulers, who all oppose the use of their territories for this purpose but are subjugated.
Second--Despite the immense destruction inflicted on the Iraqi people at the hands of the Crusader Jewish alliance, and in spite of the appalling number of dead, exceeding a million, the American nevertheless, in spite of all this, are trying once more to repeat this dreadful slaughter. It seems that the long blockade following after a fierce war, the dismemberment and the destruction are not enough for them. So they come again today to destroy what remains of this people and to humiliate their Muslim neighbors.
Third--While the purposes of the Americans in these wars are religious and economic, they also serve the petty state of the Jews, to divert attention from their occupation of Jerusalem and their killing of Muslims in it.
There is no better proof of all this than their eagerness to destroy Iraq, the strongest of the neighboring Arab states, and their attempt to dismember all the states of the region, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia and Egypt and Sudan, into petter states, whose division and weakness would ensure the survival of Israel and the continuation of the calamitous Crusader occupation of the lands of Arabia.
These crimes, the statement goes on to say, amount to a 'clear declaration of war by the Americans against God, His Prophet, and the Muslims. In such a situation, it is the unanimous opinion of the ulema throughout the centuries that when enemies attack the Muslim lands Jihad becomes a personal duty of every Muslim....
the final and most important part of their declaration, the fatwa, laying down that 'to kill Americans and their allies, both civil and military, is an individual duty of every Muslim who is able, in any country where this is possible, until the Aqsa mosque (in Jerusalem) and the Haram mosque (in Mecca) are freed from their grip, and until their armies, shattered and broken-winged, depart from all the lands of Islam, incapable of threatening any Muslim...(and the document continues)...
By God's leave, we call on every Muslim who believes in God and hopes for reward to obey God's command to kill the Americans and plunder their possessions wherever he finds them and whenever he can. Likewise we call on the Muslim ulema and leaders and youth and soldiers to launch attacks against the armies of the American devils and against those who are allied with them from among the helpers of Satan.(p.xxiv-xxvii)
Anyone who thinks these Islamic radicals are not serious in their goals, would do well to pause and reflect on the meaning and implications of these words.