Australian complicity in civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria: A matter of time

An RAAF FA-18 refuelling over Iraq in March 2017. Image courtesy of US Air Force via Wikimedia Commons

As Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has made it clear that he will be no less aggressive than his predecessor Tony Abbott. “Our job is to protect Australia from all threats,” Mr Turnbull has said. “Right now, as you know, our Air Force is operating in the Middle East killing terrorists.” Back in September 2016 Mr Turnbull announced that Australian laws would be overhauled to allow the Australian Defence Force to target more Islamic State (IS) fighters in Iraq and Syria. The …

What are we doing in Syria?

The alacrity with which the Prime Minister came out in support of the Trump Administration’s launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles against an air force base in Syria is a sharp reminder, for those who have been paying attention, of how easily we slide into international armed conflict, with no adequate statement of strategic intent, and no informed debate in Parliament.

Australia is once more embarked upon a military adventure in the Middle East, again at the behest of the United States, again without a clear definition of what the aims are or what we might hope to achieve, and as …

The hideous Syrian tragedy

Our armed forces have been deployed abroad opportunistically, even cynically, for decades. This must be avoided in future if they are to serve Australia’s true defence interests in future.  

With the hideous Syrian conflict now entering its 7th year, and the Iraqi conflict very much longer, it is more than time to question the role of the ADF in these conflicts. There is a large measure of cynicism in the government’s approach to the deployments of the armed forces and security generally. The problem with this approach is that deceit catches up. Going back to the Vietnam War, and since …

Freedom of Information Request: deployments 2014-2017

FOI Coordinator, GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 2001

Dear Coordinator,

On behalf of Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) I hereby submit a request for documents and for information held in electronic form by the Department of Defence, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. This is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act 1982.

I request access to documents relating to deployments of Australian troops, military assistance or any other form of military support in Iraq in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and in Syria in 2015, 2016, …

Open letter to PM Turnbull: RAAF Operations in Syria and related matters

Dear Mr Turnbull,

RAAF Operations in Syria and related matters.

I refer to the recent operation around Deir al-Zor military airport in Eastern Syria, in which between 62 and 83 Syrian soldiers who had been fighting IS militants were reported to have been killed by Coalition-led air strikes. The Department of Defence has acknowledged that Australian aircraft were among a number of international aircraft taking part in this Coalition operation.

I refer also to my letters of 1 March 2016 and 29 April 2016 regarding the authorisation of the use of military force and the deployment of Special Forces.

Australians …

We must get out of Syria

The war in Syria is extraordinarily complex. It really began in 2011 with the failures of the so-called Arab Spring.

Now the core conflict is between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and the rebel groups which oppose him. Both sides have split into several militias, which have attracted foreign fighters, including a number of Australians.

Another important aspect of the conflict involves the ethnic Kurdish minority, which is trying to carve out a de-facto Kurdish state. This has some backing from the United States, because it sees the Kurds as allies in the struggle against jihadi groups. This in …

The Syrian Air Strike ‘Mistake’: Australia Loyally Pleads Guilty

On Saturday 18 September 2016 four ‘coalition’ aircraft carried out strikes on Syrian government forces encircled by ISIS fighters near Deir-ez-Zor airport.  The strikes killed more than 80 Syrian government soldiers, and wounded more than another hundred.

The strikes not only killed and wounded Syrian Army soldiers.  Three T-72 tanks, three infantry fighting vehicles, an anti-aircraft gun and several mortars were also destroyed.

The Americans claimed it was a “mistake.”  Judging by the behaviour of the American ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, any contrition on their part could best be described as imperfect.

It is highly unlikely that the …