PM Trudeau: Stop bombing Yemen. Canada, Out of the Red Sea.

A statement by the Canada-Wide Peace and Justice Network.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has done a grave disservice to Canadians and Canada’s long-term national interests by joining the US and UK-led Operation Prosperity Guardian in the Red Sea. This latest imperial military adventure is illegal because it lacks the approval of the United Nations Security Council, the only global body empowered under the UN Charter to authorize military action against states. When Canada openly participates in illegal actions, it undermines respect for international law and the UN Charter. It also undermines respect for Canada among the international community of nations.

According to US leaders, Operation Prosperity Guardian (now widely nicknamed “Operation Genocide Guardian”) was intended to deter the Ansar Allah movement of Yemen from maintaining its solidarity naval blockade of the Red Sea, in support of its demand that Israel immediately agree to a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. It should be noted that the Yemeni blockade has so far not cost a single human life and was originally intended only to prevent passage of ships re-supplying Israel’s targeting of civilians in Gaza. 

Importantly, despite days of repeated of US/UK bombings, Operation Prosperity Guardian only increased Ansar Allah’s resolve to continue its blockade and to begin attacks on US and UK warships until a permanent ceasefire in Gaza is reached. The whole Operation has therefore been a wasteful, costly, and destructive failure that is, in fact, widening the war in West Asia. In joining the US-led “coalition-of-the-willing” in the Red Sea, Canada has not only further isolated itself from the vast majority of states in the international community, but has also put our country on the path of being dragged by the US and UK into yet another war of the US empire.

Ceasefire in Gaza Now! According to recent opinion polls, a large majority of Canadians strongly support the demand for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. Our Network likewise strongly supports this demand. We note that Israel’s ongoing slaughter of civilians in Gaza can continue only with endless supplies of US military aid and funding. Clearly, the US is the main enabler of the violence. If the US were to cut off the military aid and funding, Israel would be swiftly compelled to agree to a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and to commence negotiations on a prisoner exchange with Hamas as well as on a postwar settlement of the long-standing Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), in its recent ruling, indicated its de facto recognition that a genocide is taking place in Gaza by attaching a number of demands upon the State of Israel. We argue that the Trudeau government should follow the example of over 70 UN member states and support South Africa’s application. Instead, in seconding Canadian military personnel to Operation Prosperity Guardian, while simultaneously withdrawing funding from UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency), Trudeau’s government has transitioned from enabling the State of Israel to continue its horrendous massacre of the helpless civilians of Gaza to implicating Canada directly in the genocide. We will ensure Canadians remember this fact when they go to the polls in the next federal election.

PM Trudeau acknowledged that his government had authorized – without consulting Parliament (nor apparently his NDP partners in the Confidence and Supply Agreement) –  the participation of about 25 Canadian military officers in logistical and planning roles in the growing series of US and UK waves of military strikes on Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world, which had resulted so far in several deaths and extensive destruction of civilian infrastructure. Trudeau’s duplicity was clearly motivated by fear of dissent both in Parliament and in Canadian civil society. In fact, several of our member organizations staged loud protests immediately following Trudeau’s announcement. As Canadians, we object to the prime minister’s high-handed actions taking Canada to war without a robust public and parliamentary debate.

Our Network was deeply involved in the opposition to the Harper and Trudeau governments’ authorizations of billions of dollars in Canadian arms sales to Saudi Arabia during the US/UK/Saudi war on Yemen from 2015-23. During that conflict, about 150,000 Yemenis were killed, six million were internally and externally displaced, and another 225,000 (mostly children) died from starvation and disease. The UNHCR declared Yemen the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis”, until the recent Israeli onslaught on Gaza. Opinion polls taken in 2016, 2017, and 2018 showed that Canadians increasingly opposed the Trudeau government’s arms sales initiatives with each passing year.

The peace groups comprising our Canada-Wide Peace and Justice Network have been in the thick of the massive grassroots Ceasefire Now! campaign across Canada over the past four months. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally bent to intense popular pressure when his UN representative voted on December 12, 2023, for a non-binding UN resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire at the UN General Assembly. From our Network’s point of view, that step was welcome, but definitely not enough: the resolution’s fine words changed nothing on the ground and Gazans continue to be killed in large numbers. We demand that the Trudeau government take the following actions:

1) withdraw from the US-led, naval Operation Prosperity Guardian in the Red Sea and seek an end to hostilities in West Asia;

2) restore funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA);

3) officially support the application of South Africa to the International Court of Justice to declare Israel’s slaughter of Gazans a genocide;

4) recall the Canadian ambassador to Israel until a permanent ceasefire is declared in Gaza;

5) place an embargo on the two-way trade in arms between Canada and Israel;

6) call for an end to shuttle diplomacy on the part of the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, to frame an unilateral,  US-brokered postwar settlement for Israel/Palestine, which would benefit the apartheid State of Israel to the detriment of Palestine. Instead, Trudeau should advocate for the UN-sponsored Quartet to be empowered to facilitate the just, lasting, and comprehensive peace agreement for Israel/Palestine contained in decades of UN resolutions, and resulting in the creation of a Palestinian state. Conversely, an international peace conference, as proposed by the Peoples’ Republic of China, would also serve to try to reach a multilaterally-satisfactory peace in West Asia;

7) ensure a process that creates peace, security, and human rights for all. To this end, decisions must not be left solely in the hands of governments. Civil society and grassroots peacemakers must be empowered to be full participants in any peace agreement.  Most importantly, as required by UN Security Council Resolution 1325, women peacemakers must be included and empowered in any peace negotiations;

8) end the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund in Canada (JNF), and other pro-Israeli organizations in Canada, who send approximately $250 million in tax-free donations from Canada to Israel annually to support the Israeli Defence Forces, the establishment of Jewish-only settlements in the Occupied Territories, and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians;

9) curtail recruitment for the Israeli Defence Forces in Canada;

10) suspend the Canada-Israel free trade and security agreements;

11) re-establish diplomatic relations with the Syrian and Iranian governments;

12) lift Canada’s unilateral (and, therefore, illegal) economic sanctions against Syria, Lebanon, and Iran;

13) develop an independent, non-NATO, non-aligned, foreign policy that seeks to establish friendly relations with all the countries of the world and thereby cooperate on responding to the existential environmental crisis facing all of humanity;

14) work urgently for a permanent end to hostilities in Gaza, Israel/Palestine, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen before these conflicts escalate into a wider regional war that would set all of West Asia, and perhaps the whole world, on fire.