On the subject of...

Religion

21
Nov
2018

Three More Terrorists; Fairfax/Ipso Poll; Immigration Policy

In my Commentary published on 18 November I suggested the handling of the Bourke St incident indicated serious deficiencies. This has been confirmed by developments since then. Most important has been the statement by Victorian Attorney General Pakula that Victorian police had not received information from federal sources which would warrant them acting to at least monitor the now dead Muslim terrorist, Shire Ali. But Victorian police chief Ashton subsequently announced that they had in fact received the necessary federal information. This prompted me to send a letter to the press arguing that Pakula should resign but, as he has stuck to his guns and has been supported by Victorian Premier Andrews, that won’t happen a couple of days before the election (see OZ on Bourke St Terrorist Revelations and Pakula Claims Not Informed of Terrorists Passport Withdrawal).
16
Nov
2018

Continued Concern on Islamic Threat

As expected, more information is emerging about the activity of radicalised Muslims and their relationship with the Hume Islamic Centre. The most worrying development reported today about the Bourke St terrorist, Shire Ali, is that he was on bail when the killing occurred and had a record of getting away with breaking previous bails. This information would have been available to the Victorian government and to senior police. In those circumstances Shire Ali should have been at least closely watched but there have been no reports that he was. More details will be available tomorrow but there is no doubt that this will become a major issue in the imminent Victorian election.
14
Nov
2018

More on Islamic Killing; Further Downturn in Newspoll

Last Sunday’s Commentary on the killing by a Somalian (Shire Ali) in Bourke St gave the gist of PM Morrison’s reaction that “I am the first to protect religious freedom in this country, but it also means I must be the first to call out religious extremism,” he said. “Religious extremism takes many forms around the world, and no religion is immune from it … But here in Australia, we would be kidding ourselves if we did not call out the fact that the greatest threat of religious extremism … is the radical and dangerous ideology of extremist Islam.”
16
Sep
2018

Morrison Still Short on Leadership

We ended last week’s session of Federal Parliament with Morrison still in a precarious position and with another week in parliament to come. He has received some favourable publicity from his energetic en tour of some electorates and from his aggressive handling of parliament. However, his request for support from parliamentary colleagues on Thursday night by the raising of hands to a song left a good deal to be desired and he subsequently acknowledged that “the full lyrics … were just not OK” (see report published in today’s Sunday Fairfax and reproduced above in Morrison’s Performance in Parliament) . And the message he (and others) received from Turnbull from New York , which suggested that Dutton’s position as an MP should be checked by the High Court, did not help, all the more so as reports also suggest Turnbull has been leaking about his (Morrison’s) behaviour.
14
Jun
2018

More on Assessing Summit, ANU Further Exposed

In yesterday’s Commentary I suggested that the immediate media responses to the Summit missed two important points – Kim is no long in a closed shell and Trump has not been given adequate praise for bringing him out. The media has improved today but remains too equivocal about the prospects because very little agreed substance has emerged so far. We are left, therefore, with judgements about whether Kim and Trump will do what they say they will –and to what extent. The most readable assessment has been made by Cameron Stewart, who is posted in the US by The Australian and is well-equipped to assess Trump and other US leaders: nobody is equipped to assess Kim, of course. I am using Stewart’s article to draw attention to the main points of concern below (see Stewart on Summit).
26
Jan
2018

Pence Address to Knesset & Threatened Turkey/US Clash in Syria

Although the Palestinians refused to meet him, US Vice-President Pence’s visit to the Middle East and his address to Israel’s Knesset highlighted a wide range of important issues and explanations of the US’s foreign policy not previously made clear. Considerable publicity has been given to his confirmation that the US embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem but his Knesset address (text here) says a lot more than that. As with such speeches, it probably includes statements of policy which may not be achievable: but Pense has made an important US foreign/defence policy statement.
14
Jan
2018

Iran & US Sanctions Policy, Climate in 2017

It appears that the protests in Iran have virtually ceased following deaths and many arrests by the Revolutionary Guard. However, according to a Reuters report Supreme Leader Khamenei still felt it necessary to make a public statement that “citizens had a right to air legitimate concerns, a rare concession by a leader who usually voices clear support for security crackdowns.These concerns must be addressed. We must listen, we must hear. We must provide answers within our means", Mr Khamenei was quoted as saying, hinting that not only the government of Rouhani, but his own clerical leadership must also respond”. "I'm not saying that they must follow up. I am also responsible. All ofus must follow up" (see attached Khamenie Statement 10 Jan).
9
Jan
2018

Iran’s President Speaks Out Publicly

There has been a significant development in the political situation in Iran. According to a Reuters report dated 9 Jan, “President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday young Iranian protesters were unhappy about far more than just the economy and they would no longer defer to the views and lifestyle of an aging revolutionary elite”. He is also quoted by Tasnim news agency as saying “It would be a misrepresentation (of events) and also an insult to Iranian people to say they only had economic demands”... “People had economic, political and social demands.”... “We cannot pick a lifestyle and tell two generations after us to live like that. It is impossible... The views of the young generation about life and the world is different than ours,” he said. Note also that it is reported that Rouhani said on Monday that “people should be allowed to criticize all Iranian officials, with no exception”.
7
Jan
2018

Where is Australia on Iran?

Despite reports of thousands of arrests and over 20 deaths, the anti-government protests in Iran appear to be continuing, albeit on a much smaller scale. A member of the US think-tank, Brookings Institution, Suzanne Maloney, is a senior fellow on Middle East policy and describes them as reflecting “Anger over these [financial] losses came on top of years of pent-up frustration over a sluggish economy. When the government announced recent price increases and released an austere budget bill, it ignited at-times violent protests that spread rapidly to dozens of cities nationwide. Demonstrators quickly turned their fury on corrupt officials and the Islamic republic as a whole”… "What's different is that it seems to have tapped into a deep sense of alienation and frustration, that people aren't just demonstrating for better working conditions or pay, but insisting on wholesale rejection of the system itself " (see article from the Washington Post dated 7 January, “Iran Expert says…”).
6
Jan
2018

Iran After Five Days

Today’s Australian published my letter calling for the Turnbull government to support the US initiative opposing Islamic regimes in Iran as it did with the caliphate in Iraq (see below). At the same time, however, it published what can only be described as a strange Op-Ed by Clive Williams, who is a visiting professor at the Australian National University’s Centre for Military & Security Law and an adjunct professor at the Australian Defence Force Academy