OTTAWA — Barack Obama’s former ambassador to Canada says President Donald Trump’s decision to order the killing of a top Iranian general represents the latest instance of the mercurial U.S. president throwing allies such as Canada under buses.
Ex-envoy Bruce Heyman says the killing of Iranian Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani by a U.S. drone near Baghdad’s airport last week elevates that disregard of American allies to a new level.
He says it is part of a pattern of disruptive international decisions by Trump that have led to the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate-change agreement; the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal; and the Iran nuclear deal, which included the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany.
Those decisions caused serious headaches for American allies, including Canada, while Friday’s killing has imperilled the NATO training mission in Iraq that Canada currently leads, says Heyman.
Iraq is ordering all international troops out of the country because it views the American attack on its soil as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.
Heyman was the American diplomat who helped broker Canada’s entry into Iraq in 2014 as a U.S. ally in its fight against the spread of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in that country and neighbouring Syria.
“We were partners in this, in reducing terrorism,” Heyman said in an interview. “What concerns me, at least as publicly reported, is that the U.S. did not consult with our allies prior to this action. And if that is the case, it put Canada and others in a fairly difficult and complex situation on the ground.”
Heyman, a Democrat, has been a fierce critic of Trump, and has emerged as a vocal booster of Canada-U.S. relations during the Republican president’s rocky term in office.
As for the fallout of last week’s events in the Middle East, Heyman said American allies, including Canada, have a role to play in filling the diplomatic void opened by Trump.
“I’m hopeful that the U.S. allies are talking amongst each other and trying to figure out how best they can calm the waters,” said Heyman.
Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne appeared to be doing just that on Monday, with a series of phone calls with his Iraqi and Jordanian counterparts.
“The two ministers agreed that a de-escalation in tensions is necessary as peace and stability are key to pursuing the political and economic reforms underway in Iraq,” Champagne’s office said of his conversation with Iraq’s Mohammed Ali al-Hakim.
That was the same message that Champagne tried to deliver after his talk with Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.
Safadi said on Twitter that he had an “in-depth discussion” with Champagne that “emphasized all must work to deescalate rising tensions. Stressed #Iraq stability is key to regional security & central to defeating #Daesh. Int’l coalition must remain intact. Great ties.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 7, 2020.
Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press