Last year Saudi Arabia, Canada's ally against ISIS, beheaded more than 79 people

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      On October 3, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that the Royal Canadian Air Force will very soon begin combat operations in Iraq and likely Syria as well.

      The deployment, to last a minimum of six months, will be debated in Parliament beginning Monday (October 6). (The matter of scheduling a debate after a decision on war has already been made is a topic for another post.)

      Harper has so far only communicated the mission to the public in the vaguest of terms. But we know that it has something to do with combatting a group of radical extremists who call themselves the Islamic State (previously the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL]).

      Through 2014 a group of radical extremists calling itself the Islamic State took over large portions of northern Iraq and Syria.
      Institute for the Study of War

      A majority of Canadians support Harper's decision to commit the country to a combat role in the war against ISIS. According to a recent Global News/Ipsos Reid poll, almost two-thirds, which is a greater degree of support than former prime minister Jean Chrétien had in 2001 to begin his war in Afghanistan.

      ISIS has done some truly horrible things as it has taken control of large areas of northern Iraq and Syria. It has murdered thousands of innocent civilians, tortured and crucified people, and taken women and girls as slaves. It's even attempted to commit genocide against the Yazidi people, a Kurdish religious minority whose members number less than one million.

      But lots of truly horrible things are happening all of the time. The death toll for the civil war in Syria is approaching 200,000. Closer to Canadian borders, drug wars in Mexico have left roughly 50,000 dead since 2006.

      I suspect that most Canadians' support for the deployment of Canadian soldiers to Iraq and Syria might have more to do with a smaller group of people murdered by ISIS: four white men who were beheaded in propaganda videos uploaded to YouTube. (In reverse chronological order, those are Alan Henning from Britain, David Haines from Britain, Steven Sotloff from the United States, and James Foley from the United States.)

      The barbarity of those beheadings combined with the online availability of ISIS's videos has made this war an easy sell for the U.S. and Canadian governments.

      There is another group in the Middle East that uses beheadings as a preferred method of execution. That is the government of Saudi Arabia.

      Canada is entering this latest war in the Middle East as part of a U.S.-led coalition of which Saudi Arabia is a member.

      Saudi Arabia is a Canadian ally and Canada's largest trading partner in the Arabian Peninsula. Here's a link to a government website about Canada-Saudi relations. It describes the country as a "priority market". In 2013, Canada exported about $918 million in goods to Saudi.

      Also in 2013, more than 79 people were beheaded under the authority of the Saudi monarch.

      According to an Amnesty International report, that number is consistent with previous years. In 2012, Saudi Arabia beheaded at least 79 people, and in 2011, it saw 82 people killed that way.

      Below is a video of three of those beheadings. (Warning: the footage is of poor quality but still graphic).

      The online news network The Young Turks has called attention to public beheadings in Saudi Arabia.

      This is a Canadian ally in its war against ISIS.




      Oct 5, 2014 at 10:40am

      I woukd add to your list of horrible things routinely ignored by the North American media and public the killing by drone strike of innocent civilians whose only crime was their proximity to someone the US government has decided is a terrorist. But I doubt Charles Adler or Keith Baldry would see things that way.

      A. MacInnis

      Oct 5, 2014 at 11:32am

      Uh, I guess it's a fair point - I guess - but there's a big difference between chopping someone's head off quickly, with a sword, and sawing it off with a knife. Just saying.

      Allen G

      Oct 5, 2014 at 12:37pm

      It appears that our allies, Australia, France, Arab nations,Britain and the U.S. have entered the fight against these terrorists.
      The real question is why the Liberal Party in Canada is against this military action. The LPC has waged a strong campaign to stop Canada's entry into the struggle against ISIL, ISIS.
      We note that the same LPC condemned Israel in it's fight against Hamas.


      Oct 5, 2014 at 1:33pm

      yes Travis(good piece!), this info. should be front and center in the mainstream media in order to put the subject in all its sordid perspective. And then of course there is Harper and China. We could be thinking in terms of trade boycotts for starters. When it comes to foreign policy the U.S. has for decades seemed to have a policy of shoot first ask questions later- and the Harpers of the world too often blindly go along.


      Oct 5, 2014 at 2:42pm

      Keep the masses in fear, and they will consume.

      J.D. Parsons

      Oct 5, 2014 at 3:36pm

      The article fails to mention that the people beheaded were convicted criminals in a country, with the death penalty, that uses beheading as their method of execution. Notice I said execution not murder.
      Our American allies have executed 1360 convicted criminals since 1974.
      None of these people were beheaded because they were the wrong religion or from the wrong country, to instill fear or for other terrorist inspired reasons.


      Oct 5, 2014 at 4:03pm

      The Saudis may not be progressive, but they're hardly the barbarians of ISIS.


      Oct 5, 2014 at 5:46pm

      Since when is upholding a law necessarily moral? Saudi Arabia has a brutal, repressive regime that uses beheadings against "crimes" such as witchcraft, and it is a regime fully supported by the Western world. The double standard in Western countries is sickening. ISIS may be bad, but let's not forget that the "beacon of freedom" in the Western world used nuclear weapons to exterminate unborn babies and their mothers in 1945.

      huckleberry farper

      Oct 5, 2014 at 7:54pm

      Harper's trying to be a tough guy, on our dime. Yep. Captain Ahab has to hunt his whale. Good way to bankrupt your own country, eh?


      Oct 5, 2014 at 8:04pm

      ISIS was once funded by the west? True or false.