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

A past extreme weather response shelter set up for women inside Surrey’s Nightshift Street Ministries. (Photo: Chris Paul/nightshiftministries.org)
Homeless people in Surrey face ‘shocking and scary’ scenario this winter

Last winter there were nine Extreme Weather Response shelters in all of Surrey and White Rock. So far, during this pandemic, there are only five lined up for the coming winter

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
No new Surrey school COVID-19 exposures reported overnight

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

File photo
Surrey Mounties seeking dash-cam footage of Whalley road rage fight

Two men are alleged to have stabbed one another

The RCMP helicopter. (File photo)
Suspect escapes after police pursuit through Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford

Police chase involved two stolen vehicles, including one taken in Mission

IIO Chief Civilian Director Ron MacDonald. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Police watchdog concludes Mounties didn’t shoot Fleetwood teen at strip mall

IIO finds tragic death of teenager ‘not the result of any actions or inactions’ by the Surrey RCMP

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read