Tuesday 29 Sep 2020 | 01:12 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

Just how absurd is the Middle East at the moment?

Even for long-time watchers of the Middle East like myself, the region's enmities and alliances have become very difficult to keep track of. This has just been taken to a mind-bogglingly new level by Saudi Arabia's decision to launch a military campaign in Yemen against the Houthi movement. Last

Are the Khmer Rouge and ISIS similar?

Elliot Brennan's comparison between the Khmer Rouge and ISIS raises a number of questions. No one is more aware than I of the terrible cost of Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. It was a period that devastated a country I knew well, and which led to the death, as Elliot rightly

The shrinking space for piety without violence

The deliberate recruitment of women by ISIS certainly brings a new twist to radicalism. It is something that al Qaeda never quite got the hang of. It is worrisome, because it reveals the long-term ambitions of the group – to create a new generation of radicalised men and women. Why is it

The worrying parallels between the Khmer Rouge and ISIS

In an excellent exploratory piece by Graeme Woods in The Atlantic this month, he notes in passing the similarities between ISIS and the Khmer Rouge. It’s a worthy comparison – further highlighted by ISIS’ destruction of antiquities as reported last week – and something that merits a

Boko Haram: The later years

Since 2010, Boko Haram has acquired increasingly sophisticated weaponry, grown its ranks, and expanded its capacity to attack a variety of targets, primarily in northeastern Nigeria. Boko Haram´s links to international networks, including al-Qaeda, became known to the Nigerian public in March

Applying the right lessons to Iraq

The Australian Government's announcement that 300 additional troops will be sent to Iraq to help train the Iraqi Army has brought forth the usual public commentators, myself included. My view is that all those who see ISIS as evil should be prepared to commit military and other resources to oppose

How does the Arab world view ISIS?

Syrian friends here in Lebanon often tell me that some Syrian refugees have chosen to leave Lebanon and return to parts of Syria that are under ISIS control. These anecdotes usually emerge as part of a larger conversation about why ISIS still receives support in some Arab countries, albeit often

ISIS is the least of Afghanistan's problems

The growing geographic spread of ISIS has lately been part of the news chatter in tabloids and respected papers alike. We know ISIS has tried to spread its propaganda to Pakistan and Afghanistan since late 2014 and proclaimed its leadership of that region in early January, with members of the

What is New Zealand's mission in Iraq?

On Tuesday New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced in parliament that New Zealand would deploy a non-combat military mission to Iraq as part of the US-led coalition against ISIS. The 'Building Partner Capacity' mission to help train the Iraqi Security Forces will be part of a joint (albeit

Julie Bishop goes to Tehran

To everyone's surprise, it was announced on Monday that Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop intends to travel to Tehran in April 2015. The visit isn't about the nuclear negotiations with Iran. After all, while Australia would rather not see Iran go nuclear, it isn't exactly a foreign policy

Treat terrorism like crime, not war

Earlier this week Anthony Bubalo suggested that a debate is needed about how to properly counter terrorism in liberal democracies, and more specifically how to achieve the proper balance between security and civil liberties when confronting violent extremism. This is part 1 of my response. The

The French Intifada

Nicole George's perceptive pointer to 'La Haine' on The Interpreter as a way into the fraught world of the contemporary France's banlieues is a reminder of the fact that a sizeable section of French society is alienated from the social mainstream by a combustible mix of religion, ethnic origin and

Police massacre threatens Philippines peace deal

The best chance for peace in Muslim Mindanao in the Philippines has just noticeably faded. The deadly clash in the early morning of Sunday 25 January between the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police and the local command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the

ISIS beheadings are a grotesque media strategy

ISIS is a transitory organisation whose aspiration to lead an Islamic reconquista is doomed to fail. It will eventually be degraded and splinter, some of its members joining the myriad other groups within the jihadist milieu while others fight over what is left of ISIS. One thing of enduring

Terrorism at home: The law cannot save us

I picked up my tickets for tomorrow's AFL Grand Final the other day. My team, the Sydney Swans, is playing and I should be excited to be going. Instead, I have been infected by the unease gripping Melbourne. I ask myself, am I taking a risk by attending the game?  We are told by our political

The long war in Iraq: A quarter-century and counting

By Professor Tim Dunne and Dr Emily Tannock, both at the School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland Those selling the war against ISIS are likely to point out what is new about the present crisis. First and foremost, they will say, the character of the enemy

Conviction and vigour in Obama's IS speech

There were relatively few plot twists for a prime time television spectacle but you have to hand it to the leading man: he hasn't put in such a convincing performance in a long time. The main points of Barack Obama's widely telecast speech to the American public tonight did not depart

Australian jihadists: Is revoking citizenship the answer?

One of the policy solutions being considered by the Australian Government to deal with the expected problem of returning Australian jihadists is to preclude their return to Australia, or expel them, by revoking their Australian citizenship. A recently released report from the Independent

Russia's MH17 response: How to mismanage a crisis

For Western audiences, Moscow's initial prickly attitude to the downing of MH17 can be read as an example of how not to manage a crisis. Even with the weak hand he inherited, President Vladimir Putin has been consistently strong when on the foreign policy offensive, devising creative ways to advance

Home-grown jihadists: An innovative solution

Over the past three years, large numbers of Australians have chosen to leave the freedom, opportunity and safety of our community to enter the abyss of sectarian war and violence in Syria, northern Lebanon, and most recently, Iraq. The numbers are frightening. Over 200 Australians are estimated to

Why the US (and Australia) should not go back to Iraq

Anthony Bubalo's Why the US (and Australia) Should Go Back to Iraq deserves your attention. In the most direct sense, it is a call for renewed diplomatic and political engagement in Iraq. But in arguing that the Middle East continues to demand American (and Australian) attention, it also questions

The rise of jihadism in Syria and Egypt

Launched last week, Anthony Bubalo's Next –gen Jihad in the Middle East has attracted much media attention for its argument that current conditions in the Middle East are worse than those that saw the emergence of al Qaeda.  As Lateline quipped, Syria could be the new Afghanistan. Listen to this

Egypt, Sisi and the next generation of jihadists

At the end of last week, Egyptian military chief Field Marshall Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced that he would be resigning his military post to run for this year's presidential elections, expected to take place in May. It is a move that has been mooted for months now, and has at its origins the

Next-gen jihad in the Middle East

In this Analysis Lowy Institute Research Director, Anthony Bubalo, argues that the current turmoil in the Middle East is incubating a new generation of jihadists. In many respects the current conditions in the region are worse than those that saw the emergence of al-Qaeda. 

Three notes on the State of the Union

1. The importance of Asia to America Robert Kelly's outstanding contribution on the absence of Asia from Obama's State of the Union speech deserves a brief addendum. Here's a key excerpt from Bob's post: ...in both security and economic affairs, the relationship is highly asymmetric, and those

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