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What's at stake for Canada after Iran's unprecedented attack on Israel


Following the Iranian missile and drone strikes against Israel over the weekend, Canada should take the threat of Iran and potential escalation of the conflict seriously, one global affairs analyst says.

"We have a larger global interest," Aurel Braun, professor of international relations and political science at the University of Toronto, said in a video interview with Braun is also an associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. "Iran poses a threat not only to Israel but to the Arab states (and) to the larger international system."

Now closely allied with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iran has supplied thousands of "killer drones" to Russia that have killed both thousands of civilians and troops, Braun said.

"So Iran's tentacles extend over a very large area and we in Canada as a G7 member, as a NATO member, as a supporter of Ukraine, as a fellow democracy, we have an important stake in this," Braun said.

"If (Iran is) able to control the region, they have worldwide ambitions and if they have nuclear weapons, they would present a threat because that would give them new capabilities."

Despite hostile relations since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, it was only on Saturday when Iran launched a direct military attack on Israel, The Associated Press reported. Israel said 99 per cent of about 300 drones and missiles were intercepted. It occurred in the wake of a suspected Israeli strike in Syria on April 1. Israel didn't confirm responsibility for that attack, which killed two Iranian generals in an Iranian consular building.

Iran declared the operation over and no one was reported killed in the Saturday attacks.

'Very volatile' situation

Calling the situation "very volatile," Iddo Moed, Israel's ambassador to Canada, told CTV's Question Period on Sunday that Israel must act to ensure Iran "doesn't inflict more damage on us."

He added that Israel needs support from allies such as Canada.

James Horncastle, Edward McWhinney professor in international relations at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., said it's hard to speculate on what Canada's role will be since it depends on whether the conflict escalates.

"Canada was pretty clear from basically the outset on Saturday that the goal is to try to prevent an escalation of the conflict," Horncastle said in a video interview with "There's a lot of domestic pressures within Israel that are trying to kind of force a reaction. … Ultimately, it's too early to say one way or the other."

One of the actions Canada may take is to declare Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian regime's military force, a terrorist organization, though he said it would be "more a symbolic act."

Horncastle believes Iran's attack on Saturday was partly meant to maintain the regime's support with the anti-Israel and anti-American proxies that back them in the region.

"Iran's attack was basically designed to be very loud, but the way they conducted it, the way that it was very public, it gave considerable advance warning to Israel and the United States that an attack was coming and it really made the chances of that attack succeeding minimal," he said.

"The way they responded was basically designed to give Israel, as well as the United States, an out to not escalate the actions further."

Braun said Israel's allies should turn to non-military means in dealing with Iran, such as through sanctions, supporting dissidents and resuming selling more arms to Israel. Canada hasn't approved new arms export permits to Israel since Jan. 8, saying Ottawa must ensure the weapons are used in accordance with Canadian law, Reuters reported.

The move to freeze arm exports to Israel sent the "wrong message," he said.

"Basically, we are punishing a country for resisting aggression ... that began on Oct. 7," he said. "So we sent the wrong signal. It encourages terrorism. It encourages terrorist regimes."

One of Iran's goals is to eradicate Israel but Braun said military conflict should be avoided as much as possible. "If we want to avoid putting boots on the ground in the Middle East, the best way is to support Israel and to support those Arab states like Saudi Arabia and others that want to defend themselves against Iran."

Canada's response

From the United Kingdom to France, world leaders are urging Israel not to retaliate after Iran launched hundreds of drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles to Israel on Saturday.

When asked what Canada was doing in response to the latest outbreak of tensions between Israel and Iran, Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Pierre Cuguen referred to Canada's joint statement with G7 leaders. Issued on Sunday, Canada and other G7 leaders "unequivocally" condemned "Iran's direct and unprecedented attack" against Israel.

"We express our full solidarity and support to Israel and its people and reaffirm our commitment towards its security," the statement read.

Canada said it will continue to work to "stabilize the situation and avoid further escalation."

"With its actions, Iran has further stepped toward the destabilization of the region and risks provoking an uncontrollable regional escalation," it wrote, noting it is ready to take  measures to help avoid further escalation of the situation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday said Canada is in contact with allies and is monitoring the situation closely.

With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press Top Stories

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