Shorten Gives ALP Support To Iraq Commitment; Greens Opposed

The ALP has given support to the Abbott government’s commitment of fighter aircraft to the strikes against ISIL in Iraq, whilst the Greens have opposed the decision.

Shorten

The government announced today that Australia will provide up to eight Australian F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft to participate in the international coalition supporting Iraq. [Read more…]


Melissa Parke’s Speech On Iraq; ALP Member Questions Commitment

Melissa Parke, the ALP member for Fremantle, has delivered a speech critical of Australia’s mission in Iraq against IS forces.

Parke

Parke began her speech by revealing that someone on Twitter had called for her execution for treason “because I had questioned the government’s rapid escalation of our new involvement in Iraq from a purely humanitarian mission to one where we appear to be joining the US in an open-ended fight against IS”.

Parke criticised the government for not engaging with the United Nations before committing special forces. She questioned whether other groups such as Hezbollah or the Syrian army might also be armed in the future. She warned against the “enormous danger” of moving too quickly and expressed concern about “the increased security risk to Australians everywhere”.
She criticised the Abbott government’s neglect of climate change “as a very serious national security vulnerability”. [Read more…]


Shorten Maintains Support For Abbott Government On Iraq; Also Outlines Conditions

The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, has reiterated the ALP’s support for the Abbott government’s “humanitarian” mission in Iraq, whilst setting out conditions for continuing support.

Shorten

Shorten responded in the House of Representatives to a Statement on National Security by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

He said: “Labor fully supports Australia’s contribution to the international humanitarian mission to Iraq. We do not offer this lightly. Sending Australians into harm’s way is the most serious of decisions. Our support for the government on this issue is not a matter of jingoism or nationalism; it is a calculation of conscience and national interest.” [Read more…]


ALP Supports Military Commitment To Iraq, Greens Opposed

The Labor Opposition has given its support to the government’s commitment of RAAF aircraft and military personnel to the fight against ISIL in Iraq, whilst the Greens have opposed it.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten described ISIL as a “barbaric organisation” and said: “Labor supports today’s announcement of the deployment of an Australian military force – including RAAF assets and personnel – to the United Arab Emirates.”

Shorten said the ALP didn’t do so lightly: “But we support the Government’s decision that Australia has a role to play in eradicating this evil and we are reassured that our support is being provided at the request of, and in full coordination with, the Iraqi Government.”

Milne

In Hobart, Greens leader Senator Christine Milne criticised the commitment, describing it as open-ended and lacking a plan for engagement.

Milne said there was no indication of the duration of the mission or the criteria for its success: “How long? How many people? What measure of success? Nobody knows.” [Read more…]


Combat Aircraft To Join Coalition Against ISIL; Advisers But No Combat Troops; Australia Responds To US Request

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced that Australian combat aircraft will join the international coalition against ISIL in Iraq.

Abbott

Abbott said up to eight RAAF F/A18 aircraft, an E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft, and a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker and Transport aircraft will be deployed to the United Arab Emirates.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) will also prepare a Special Operations Task Group to act as military advisers to assist Iraq. ADF personnel will also be placed in the United States Headquarters for coordination, planning and logistics purposes.

Whilst around 600 Australian personnel will be sent to the Middle East, combat troops will not be deployed. [Read more…]


Ministerial Statement On Iraq: Abbott And Shorten Unite In House

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has made a Ministerial Statement on Iraq in the House of Representatives.

Describing the ISIL movement as a “death cult”, Abbott said “Australian aircraft have participated in humanitarian airdrops to people trapped on Mount Sinjar and, just yesterday, to the besieged inhabitants of the town of Amerli”.

He said in coming days Australian aircraft will take part in an airlift of supplies to the Kurdish government in Erbil.

Abbott said: “So far, we have met requests for humanitarian relief and for logistical support. So far, there has been no request for military action itself.”

The Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, responded to Abbott’s statement, and offered the Opposition’s support to the government’s position.

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Transcript of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Ministerial Statement on Iraq.

Many Australians are understandably apprehensive about the risk of becoming involved in another long and costly conflict in the Middle East. [Read more…]


Abbott Announces Assistance For Military Airlift To Kurds; No Request Yet For Further Action

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced that Australia will join an airlift of military equipment to the Kurds in northern Iraq.

PM Tony Abbott and CDF Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin at their joint press conference today

Speaking at a joint press conference with the Chief of Defence, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, Abbott said the government had agreed to a request from the Obama Administration. The US, UK, Canada, France and Italy will also be involved in the airlift.

Abbott said “no specific request” has been received from the Obama Administration for “stepped up military activity”. He said that “just because we would prefer to stand aside from these conflicts doesn’t mean that these conflicts will stand aside from us”. Any request would be considered according to a range of criteria, including whether there is an achievable overall objective and a clear role for Australian forces.

  • Watch Channel 7 News report (2m)

Transcript of joint press conference with the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin.

Abbott

PRIME MINISTER: Well thanks everyone for coming. As you know over recent weeks and months we’ve seen a series of developments in Iraq and elsewhere but particularly in Iraq which constitute not only a humanitarian catastrophe but a security nightmare for the people of the region and for the wider world. We’ve seen beheadings, crucifixions, mass executions, we’ve seen minority groups, subject in President Obama’s words to potential genocide. The situation remains severe and it will remain severe as long as the ISIL movement retains control over large swathes of northern and western Iraq and parts of eastern Syria. [Read more…]


Tony Blair Says Iraq Is In Mortal Danger And The Middle East Is Under Threat

The former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, says that the Iraqi government has to be supported in beating back the insugency that has seen the terrorist group ISIS seize control of major cities.

BlairIn an essay released by his office, Blair says “it is a bizarre reading of the cauldron that is the Middle East today, to claim that but for the removal of Saddam, we would not have a crisis”.

Blair says: “… if we want the right policy for the future, we have to learn properly the lessons not just of Iraq in 2003 but of the Arab uprisings from 2011 onwards.”

The man who joined with former US President George W. Bush in a “coalition of the willing” to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein in 2003 says the Middle East is “going through a huge, agonising and protracted transition”.

He says: “We have to liberate ourselves from the notion that ‘we’ have caused this. We haven’t. We can argue as to whether our policies at points have helped or not; and whether action or inaction is the best policy and there is a lot to be said on both sides. But the fundamental cause of the crisis lies within the region not outside it.”

Text of an essay released by the Office of Tony Blair.

Iraq, Syria and the Middle East – An essay by Tony Blair

The civil war in Syria with its attendant disintegration is having its predictable and malign effect. Iraq is now in mortal danger. The whole of the Middle East is under threat.

We will have to re-think our strategy towards Syria; support the Iraqi Government in beating back the insurgency; whilst making it clear that Iraq’s politics will have to change for any resolution of the current crisis to be sustained. Then we need a comprehensive plan for the Middle East that correctly learns the lessons of the past decade. In doing so, we should listen to and work closely with our allies across the region, whose understanding of these issues is crucial and who are prepared to work with us in fighting the root causes of this extremism which goes far beyond the crisis in Iraq or Syria. [Read more…]


Tony Abbott Meets With Barack Obama At White House

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has met with US President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington DC.

Obama

Obama and Abbott each made brief comments about the Australia-US alliance and foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific region.

Obama took one question from Washington journalists on the unfolding and emergency situation in Iraq. David Speers from Australian Sky News asked Obama another question about Iraq. [Read more…]


Gillard Releases National Security Strategy

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has released the government’s National Security Strategy.

In a speech at the Australian National University, Gillard said the strategy “highlights the dramatic economic and strategic shift towards the Asia-Pacific region and provides a blueprint for national security over the next decade”.

Gillard

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  • Download: Strong and Secure: A Strategy for Australia’s National Security (PDF)

Gillard said, “we are transitioning from one decade, the decade of 9/11, to a post 9/11 era where some risks and challenges endure and others are evolving rapidly.”

The National Security document says the key national security risks faced by Australia are:

  • Espionage and foreign interference
  • Instability in developing and fragile states
  • Malicious cyber activity
  • Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
  • Serious and organised crime
  • State-based conflict or coercion significantly affecting Australia’s industries
  • Terrorism and violent extremism

Media release from Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

A Strategy for Australia’s National Security

Australia’s first National Security Strategy highlights the dramatic economic and strategic shift towards the Asia-Pacific region and provides a blueprint for national security over the next decade.

Complementing the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, the National Security Strategy will ensure Australia takes advantage of the opportunities of the Asian Century whilst focussing national security efforts on the risks and challenges that come with change in the region. [Read more…]