Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight News Highlights – January 3, 2013

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  • Mali (1)  “They are likely to be welcomed when they first arrive, but Canada’s soldiers will be venturing into a dangerous political minefield if Ottawa decides to approve a proposed training mission in Mali ….” 
  • Mali (2)  So, how would it happen, if it happens?  “…. Should the government decide to contribute, here’s how it would come about:  The so-called ask – for troop commitment and what sort of mission Canada would be involved in – would come through the United Nations Force Generation Service (FGS), which is part of its department of peacekeeping operations, according to Walter Dorn, professor of defence studies at Kingston’s Royal Military College.  The UN would forward its request to Canada’s military adviser at Canada’s permanent mission to the UN in New York, who would then send it along to Ottawa and the Department of National Defence, and also to Foreign Affairs.  The UN Security Council resolution passed in late December didn’t contain a timeline, but did state that no military intervention would take place before the Mali government is stable and its military, which is notorious for human-rights abuses, is properly trained. Any military intervention would not likely happen until next fall.  “They’re giving it a long preparation time,” said Prof. Dorn. “So that means that they’re trying to figure out what they would do.”  In addition, Prof. Dorn notes that it is not clear whether this would be a “hybrid” mission – one that is jointly commanded by the UN and the African Union – or one specifically led by the African Union, which includes more than 50 African states.  “There will be a lot of tension in terms of who’s doing what,” said Prof. Dorn. “So one issue will be command and another will be what is the French role – you don’t want to be looking colonial – and what’s the American role?” ….”
  • Mali (3)  Editorial  “…. Every operation should be judged on its own merits, but Mali meets the criteria for Canada’s support. It’s a friendly country with historic ties to Canada facing a threat from an offensive organization that is also a sworn enemy of the West.  It is simplistic to reduce the world’s antagonists to white hats and black hats, but Canada should still be able to recognize its interests in the murky, grey areas that characterize today’s battlegrounds.”
  • Mali (4)  Iranian MP treats Canadian deployment as done deal  “An Iranian lawmaker has denounced Canada’s deployment of military troops to Mali as an expansionist attempt and a “flagrant violation of international law.”  “Canada is seeking to promote its international status from a former UK colony to a first-class country, thus it is trying to expand the scope of its influence trough acts of intervention,” Seyyed Mohammad-Mehdi Pourfatemi said on Wednesday.  On Monday, Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay said Ottawa was considering sending forces to Mali to “train” government soldiers battling the militants controlling the northern part of the West African country.  “We are not at a point where we can be making an announcement. As you know training is something that the Canadian forces are particularly adept at doing,” he said.  Pourfatemi blamed the West for pursuing meddlesome policies in Africa, sowing discord among African ethnicities and supporting rebels in the region. He said colonialist powers attempt to “institutionalize” unrest in Africa to facilitate their exploitation of these countries ….”
  • Way Up North  Hat tip to Mark Collins for pointing this one out  “Mark 2012 as the year the Arctic rush for oil and gas was put on ice.  The harsh reality of finding – and the even more cumbersome process of extracting – petroleum from beneath a frozen ocean with little or no infrastructure nearby, coupled by the expensive price tag, have dented industry’s plans to exploit the polar region.  Beefed-up technology designed for Arctic work has crumbled during testing. Exploration programs have been cancelled. Other seismic testing missions have come up empty. And some companies even swore off ever drilling for oil in the Arctic ….”
  • Problems with HMCS Athabaska (via Halifax Shipping News blog)  “Shipfax is reporting that the tow line parted today setting HMCS Athabaskan adrift of Scatrie Island, where the M/V Miner is grounded on shore.  Athabaskan was towed into Sydney by the backup tug Andre H, and is reported to be safe ….” – bit more here, and a bit of backstory from here.
  • No word on the “obtained” report being shared, so no word on what else is in it  “An anti-government movement known as Freeman on the Land has become a “major policing problem” in B.C. and several other provinces, according to a threat assessment by Canada’s spy officials.  The report by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service lists Freeman members among “domestic extremists” who associate with issue-based causes, such as environmentalism, anti-capitalism, anti-globalization and far-right racism.  Its adherents fall on both the left and right wings of the political spectrum, but “at the core” of the movement is the belief that “government operates outside of its legal jurisdiction and therefore Freeman members do not recognize the authority of national, provincial, or municipal laws, policies or regulations,” says the report, titled Canada: Biannual Update on Terrorist and Extremist Threats, which was prepared in April and released under federal access-to-information laws.  “Freeman members now constitute a major policing problem in several provinces and have occasionally engaged in acts of violence against the police,” the report states ….” – more on these guys from the RCMP here, from Wikipedia here (usual caveats about Wikipedia) and from here (usual caveats about

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3 January 13 at 7:45

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