· Edited ·
David Crowe THE AUSTRALIAN NOVEMBER 18, 2015
Australia is lending its support to a “single coalition” to combat Islamic State under plans Malcolm Turnbull and Barack Obama canvassed last night to “ramp up pressure” against terrorism in the wake of the mass murder in Paris.
The Prime Minister recommitted Australian help in the military operations, amid hopes for the formation of a coalition under which the US and Russia would co-ordinate their efforts to defeat a terrorist group that has overrun swathes of Syria and Iraq.
But the US President is warning against putting more “boots on the ground” against Islamic State despite calls for stronger action, including combat troops or special forces, to add to the US and French airstrikes already under way.
As French President Francois Hollande called for a global coalition against Islamic State, France’s security service was forced to confront claims it had failed to act on warnings about the impending attack and alerts about some of the plotters who unleashed the wave of terror which killed at least 132 people.
In his strongest comments since the terror attacks on Friday, Mr Hollande yesterday vowed to destroy Islamic State and change France’s constitution to strip citizenship from extremists.
He called for a “union of all” in the global fight against the “assassins” of Islamic terrorism.
“We need a union of all who can fight this terrorist army in a single coalition,” he said. “We are not in a war of civilisations, because these assassins don’t represent one. We are in a war against jihadist terrorism, which threatens the entire world.”
Mr Turnbull and Mr Obama held their first formal bilateral meeting in Manila last night, with the talks covering the tensions over territorial claims in the South China Sea and the Trans-Pacific Partnership as well as terrorism.
The US President lauded the “enormous help” from Australia in the fight in Afghanistan and the “extraordinary co-operation” in the battle against Islamic State, where Australia is the second-largest contributor to the US-led coalition.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop yesterday expressed the hope that the effort against terrorism could turn into a “single coalition” including Russia as well as the US and its allies, signalling Australia could be part of the initiative.
Earlier, at a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 in Turkey, Mr Turnbull and Vladimir Putin discussed Syria and the Russian President did not close off the option of co-ordinating efforts.
The Australian was told Mr Turnbull’s and Mr Obama’s meeting included a discussion of Russia’s role in supporting the Syrian regimen of Bashar al-Assad and the need to co-ordinate the fight against Islamic State.
There was no request from Mr Obama for more Australian forces in Iraq or Syria, despite calls from Tony Abbott and others for Australian special forces to be sent in against the terrorist group.
Officials said there was a need to find “room to manoeuvre” among stakeholders — including Russia, the US and others — on the future of Syria.
Mr Obama said Australia and the US would “ramp up pressure” on Islamic State. “We’ve had a chance to talk not only about the continuing need to ramp up pressure against ISIL and our collaboration in reaching out to the Muslim world and working with them to prevent radicalisation and to prevent the kinds of horrific terrorist attacks that we’ve seen most recently in Paris,” Mr Obama said at the end of the meeting.
“But we’ve also had a chance to talk about how we can reach out to our own people, and Muslim communities, in order to ensure that they feel fully a part of American and Australian democracy.”
In a sign of the strength of the ties between the two nations, Mr Obama invited Mr Turnbull to visit Washington DC, adding that it would probably be in the northern winter.
About 18 months after Mr Obama welcomed Mr Abbott to the White House to greet a new Australian prime minister, the US President extended his hospitality to Australia’s new leader and said the friendship between the two nations held firm regardless of who was in power.
“We had a chance to talk about our own bilateral trade and exchanges, and as part of that I extended an invitation to the Prime Minister to visit Washington sometime soon,” Mr Obama said.
“He’s agreed so we’re going to be able to set up a time. Unfortunately it’ll probably be in the winter and it’ll be a little cold. That’s always a little worrisome for folks down under but we’ll try to make it as comfortable and as productive as possible.”
The Prime Minister arrived in The Philippines yesterday afternoon for the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation summit of regional leaders where the official agenda of economic growth was overtaken by talks on a unified response to terrorism.
The Turnbull government is considering whether to deploy a frigate to join a major taskforce in the Persian Gulf, which will be led from next month by the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.
Australia has 780 defence personnel in the Middle East to support the operations in Iraq, including six F/A-18 fighter bombers that are authorised to cross into Syria when needed.
While Australia sent special forces to train the Iraqi army, these forces were withdrawn in July after being replaced by 300 troops in a joint training exercise with New Zealand.
Ms Bishop said she could understand the view of Mr Obama that the US would not put “boots on the ground” in Syria.
“If we are able to achieve a massive disruption of Daesh’s activities through airstrikes and targeting the leadership, then that should be our first priority,” she told Sky News from Manila.
“But a military option is not the only option on the table — we also have to pursue a political solution in Syria and that will also be the subject of discussions with President Obama.”
Defence Minister Marise Payne said the government had not yet made a decision although she said the events in Paris “would feed into our thinking”.
She rejected former prime minister Tony Abbott’s call for Australian special forces to join the fight against Islamic State, saying that any changes to Australia’s commitment would need to be made in consultation with the international coalition.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, who arrived in Paris yesterday, said a ceasefire between Syria’s government and opposition could be just weeks away, a scenario that would help efforts to combat Islamic State.
“If we can get that done, that opens up the aperture for a whole bunch of things,” he said.
While the leaders talk the debate gets pretty pointed on social media as the progressive left is given free rein in the media to advance its latest twist on events in Paris, effectively blaming you and I the normal everyday westerner for upsetting Muslims and doing the recruitment work for ISIS by just being who we are.
Gobsmacked, Just check out the sort of braindead reaction we are seeing from the desperate progressive left in trying to shift blame for the Paris shootings and bombing onto the innocent people of paris and western democracy in general.
here is an example from Karyn Cartwright.
“Brilliantly said. Every. Single. Time. You post something anti Muslim. Every time you abuse, ridicule, shun or ignore a Muslim. You are helping Isis. You are enacting their agenda. You help a terrorist. #notinmyname #loveisallthereis”
and here is my response
Karyn Cartwright it is people like yourself and Waleed Aly who are doing the work for ISIS, by suggesting that every Australian, French person or American must do what the Islamists want which is to bow to the wishes of Islam and Allah, to change our culture and our ways, or else.
So you fell under the spell of the slippery well spoken salesman’s speech and now you go around condemning innocent people, victims and their families, suggesting they are responsible for these barbaric acts of murder and slaughter. Karyn Cartwright take a good look at yourself, for you and people like you are the problem, you are a disgrace to yourself, a disgrace to your family and a traitor to the culture and society that has protected and nurtured your family and friends.
We must never let this confected narrative created by the slippery agents of Islam gain any credibility at all because if you take it to its logical conclusion we will not be allowed to upset, embarrass, criticise or comment on any action or behaviour of any Islamist or Muslim in our own community without accepting that our opinion or comment will be employed by the progressive left to sanction violent retaliation in the form of terrorist shootings, the left has demonstrated it is prepared to stand beside the Islamists in their demands that we bow to the will of Islam and Allah.