Canada Is Restoring Ties with Iran, but Appears to Be Getting Nothing in Return

Five years ago, Ottawa broke off relations with Tehran. But since becoming prime minister in 2015, Justin Trudeau has promised to restore ties, and Canadian diplomats traveled to Iran last week for talks. Michael Petrou, noting the Islamic Republic’s support for terror, backing of the murderous rule of Bashar al-Assad, and atrocious human-rights record, is skeptical that any good will come out of reconciliation between the two countries:

[The] former Canadian resident Saeed Malekpour has been jailed [in Iran] for almost a decade, accused, among other charges, of propagandizing against the Islamic Republic. The Concordia University professor and Canadian citizen Homa Hoodfar was released by Iran last September, after more than 100 days in Tehran’s Evin Prison. . . . While diplomatic relations worked in that case, they didn’t save the Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, who, in 2003, was jailed at Evin, tortured, raped, and murdered. . . .

This doesn’t necessarily mean Canada shouldn’t have diplomatic relations with Iran. Canada has official ties with all sorts of obscene regimes. . . . But it would be refreshing if Canada were more candid about the tawdry nature of these relations. Trudeau once dismissed the weaponized armored vehicles Canada sells to Saudi Arabia as “jeeps”—a ridiculous statement, but one that was easier to square with his government’s supposedly more principled foreign policy.

Canada’s relationship with Saudi Arabia results in money, jobs, and, ironically, an alliance with the leader of a bloc of Sunni Arab states opposing Iran—whose ambitions in the region Canada generally opposes. What Canada gets out of restoring diplomatic ties with Iran is harder to discern: more convenient travel for Iranian Canadians and their relatives, certainly, and the possibility of modest trade and business deals down the road.

That might be enough for Trudeau’s government, and if it is, he should say so. But if Canada is to claim engaging with Iran will help Canada “hold Iran to account on human rights,” [to paraphrase a foreign-ministry spokesman], it should explain why this is so. That would be a difficult argument to make. There is little evidence to support it.

Read more at Canada

More about: Canada, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, Saudi Arabia

 

To Defeat the Legacy of Islamic State, Start Rebuilding the Communities It Destroyed

Now that the borders of Islamic State (IS) are slowly contracting, argues Alberto Fernandez, there is a moral and strategic imperative to reconstruct some of the non-Muslim communities that it has destroyed—and the U.S. should encourage local government to help:

Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate is crumbling, if all too slowly. Sadly, though, its ultimate collapse will not be the end of the story. It will leave behind a still-lethal insurgency that will almost certainly attempt to stage terrorist attacks around the world as well as a wide swath of physical destruction and devastated lives stretching from Aleppo to Ramadi.

And yet, even while the Islamic State is “losing,” there is no denying that it has also “won” some things. It has created grim facts on the ground. It has wiped out communities that will never rise again. Many Yazidi villages and towns within its orbit are destined to remain permanently empty because of slaughter and the flight of despairing survivors. IS jihadists also succeeded in destroying the ancient Christian community of Mosul, whose surviving members were robbed of everything they had when they were expelled from the city in July 2014. Many of the survivors of these same minority groups remain scattered around the region, and some still haven’t decided whether they should stay, with all the risks that it would entail, or leave forever. Islamic State has torn a hole in the fabric of the region’s millennia-old diversity that can never be fully repaired. . . .

But we should consider fresh ways for Muslim leaders to show concrete support for restoring what IS sought to exterminate. Even the resurrection of a single community would be a powerful message of solidarity and diversity in a Middle East that is becoming increasingly monochrome. . . .

In . . . Israel, one kibbutz incorporated and commemorated survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and other Jewish partisans. Imagine the resurrection of a non-Muslim community that the Islamic State sought to exterminate. What a powerful message that would send. And the message would resonate even more strongly if the work were to be done with the support of Muslim states.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: ISIS, Middle East Christianity, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy, Yazidis