Aus­tralia con­sid­ers US re­quest to strike at IS tar­gets in Syria

The China Post - - LIFE - BY ROD MCGUIRK

Aus­tralia is con­sid­er­ing a U.S. re­quest to launch airstrikes against Is­lamic State fight­ers in Syria in an un­prece­dented de­par­ture from Aus­tralian for­eign pol­icy that could spark po­lit­i­cal dis­putes.

Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott said Fri­day that his gov­ern­ment had re­ceived a re­quest from the Pen­tagon to send Aus­tralia’s six F/A-18 Su­per Hor­net jet fight­ers based in Dubai into Syria to at­tack the mil­i­tants in their strong­hold.

The war planes have been strik­ing Is­lamic State tar­gets in north­ern Iraq since Oc­to­ber last year. But Aus­tralia has balked at war in Syria with­out the in­vi­ta­tion of a le­git­i­mate Syr­ian gov­ern­ment or the firm le­gal ba­sis of a United Na­tion Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion.

Ab­bott said the gov­ern­ment had yet to de­cide on the re­quest, although it is thought the United States does not make such of­fi­cial re­quests with­out first gain­ing an un­der­tak­ing that they will suc­ceed.

“While there is a lit­tle dif­fer­ence be­tween the le­gal­i­ties of airstrikes on ei­ther side of the bor­der, there’s no dif­fer­ence in the moral­ity,” Ab­bott told re­porters.

“In the end, when they don’t re­spect the bor­der, the ques­tion is: why should we?” he said, re­fer­ring to Is­lamic State mil­i­tants who have de­clared a caliphate that strad­dles the Iraq-Syria bor­der.

Op­po­si­tion leader Bill Shorten said he press Ab­bott about the le­gal­ity of an Aus­tralian com­bat in­volve­ment dur­ing a brief­ing on Syria next week.

“We will be seek­ing an ex­pla­na­tion of the le­gal ba­sis upon the propo­si­tion which the United States has asked us — is it le­gal, what the United States has asked us to do?” Shorten told re­porters.

The gov­ern­ment can send fighter jets into Syria with­out seek­ing Par­lia­ment’s per­mis­sion, although a po­lit­i­cal squab­ble could dam­age public sup­port for a new cam­paign in Syria.

Don Roth­well, an

Aus­tralian Na­tional Univer­sity ex­pert on in­ter­na­tional law, said Aus­tralia faced “nu­mer­ous” le­gal prob­lems in ex­tend­ing com­bat oper­a­tions be­yond Iraq.

He said con­duct­ing “com­bat oper­a­tions in Syria would be go­ing well be­yond the re­mit of the cur­rent le­gal frame­work.”

“The only way in which Aus­tralia could re­ally jus­tify this is to say: ‘ Well look, we’re re­spond­ing to the threat posed by a non-state ac­tor ... and Syria is un­will­ing or un­able to re­spond to the threat posed by that par­tic­u­lar group and ac­cord­ingly we’re go­ing to launch mil­i­tary strikes,’” Roth­well said.

But he said that ar­gu­ment is con­tro­ver­sial and does not have wide­spread sup­port in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

The Cana­dian Par­lia­ment has given in-prin­ci­ple ap­proval for Syr­ian airstrikes and Bri­tain is also con­sid­er­ing bomb­ing mis­sions over Syria, while Bri­tish pilots em­bed­ded with other mil­i­taries have al­ready done so.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.