Despite assurances to the contrary, the Iraqis did not quietly, nor happily, accept Canada’s withdrawal of CF-18 jet fighters from combat against the Islamic State, new documents reveal.
In fact, Khalid Obaidi, the country’s defence minister, argued for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to change its mind in a high-level meeting prior to the suspension of the bombing campaign.
The meeting took place on Dec. 20, 2015, in Baghdad, as Canada’s newly appointed defence minister made his first fact-finding trip to the region.
The red carpet — replete with an honour guard — was rolled out for Sajjan, a former soldier with a distinguished career in Afghanistan.
“The ensuing discussion touched on a range of issues, but the Iraqi Minister of Defence was clearly focused on Canada’s decision to withdraw its CF18 fighter jets from the coalition air strikes, asking Minister Sajjan to reconsider this decision on numerous occasions,” said a Global Affairs Canada summary of the meeting, dated Dec. 22, 2015.
The report, obtained by Conservative Party researchers and shared with CBC News, was written by the chargé d’affaires at the Baghdad mission and sent to a senior Global Affairs official in Ottawa who is responsible for Middle Eastern issues in the Gulf states.