PLANS FOR EXTENDING IRAQ MISSION ON DRAWING BOARD
The Canadian military is drawing up options for extending its mission in Iraq even as growing political instability threatens to plunge the country into another cycle of violence. The current mission, which includes hundreds of special forces soldiers, transport and refuelling aircraft, a military hospital and counter-explosive experts, recently entered its fifth year and is set to expire at the end of March. But Brig.-Gen. Colin Keiver, the commander of Joint Task Force-Iraq, expects the Iraqi government will continue to rely on Canada and other international partners for the foreseeable future, which is why proposals are being readied for cabinet approval this fall. Even with an extension, peace and stability appear a long way off for many Iraqis, as a result of political infighting and deep ethnic and religious divisions.