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Foreign ministers Julie Bishop and Mohammad Zarif demonstrated a growing rapport between Australia and Iran in reaching agreement on some but not all fronts during her visit to Tehran. EPA

Ms Bishop goes to Tehran: a story of good news and bad news

Australia made progress on restoring trade and sharing intelligence on Islamic State in Iraq. Iran was less open to accepting the return of asylum seekers, which may prove a blessing in disguise.
Under the leadership of both Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda has failed to reproduce an event that has shaken the international order since 9/11. EPA

A global war for relevance: can al-Qaeda reclaim the jihadi crown?

Islamic State's rapid successes in Syria and Iraq stand in stark contrast to al-Qaeda's efforts at global jihad over the past decade.
Like their allies, New Zealand troops served in Afghanistan without the ‘Rolls Royce’ legal agreement now being demanded by some politicians for the upcoming joint mission with Australia in Iraq. AAP/NZ Defence Force, CPL Sam Shepherd

ANZAC troops' mission to Iraq undermined by petty NZ politics

Australia and New Zealand's joint mission in Iraq is getting underway. But in NZ, the decision to send 143 troops to train Iraqis against Islamic State has faced a divided parliament and public.
Given Australia’s involvement in Iraq, Tony Abbott cannot dismiss human rights abuses by Iraqi security forces fighting Islamic State militants. AAP/PMO

Australia has an obligation to stop human rights abuses by Iraq

Australia has a clear obligation under international law to take action to stop abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law by the ISF and Shi’a militia.
Syrian refugees cross the border into Turkey, one of several states that are already vulnerable to ethnic and demographic tensions. EPA

Rising tide of demographic change spells trouble across Middle East

The flows of refugees from the conflicts in Iraq and Syria are yet another driver of demographic changes that are threatening to destabilise other states long regarded as strong and democratic.
Ancient artefacts in the Archaeological Museum in Mosul in northern Iraq have been destroyed by ISIS. Screen shot via YouTube.

ISIS is destroying ancient artefacts to send a message of intent

Ancient artefacts in the Archaeological Museum in Mosul in northern Iraq have been destroyed by ISIS in recent days, behaviour that forms part of a pattern. The question is why.
The continued focus on aerial bombardment of Islamic State’s military and economic assets risks alienating Iraq’s Sunni population. EPA

Military-based strategy in Iraq risks entrenching divisions

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced a further deployment of Australian troops to Iraq to train Iraqi forces in the fight against Islamic State.
AAP

Iraq: graveyard of the believers

What is it about Iraq? This poor benighted country has suffered from the consequences of tribalism, imperialism, factionalism, despotism, to say nothing of religious rivalries that still prevent the country…
John Cantlie has been producing video content and aricles under duress. Futurenet1977 - Photograph taken by a friend Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

John Cantlie: a final message from a hostage to misfortune?

On February 9, Islamic State propagandists uploaded the latest video to feature captured British journalist John Cantlie. In the film, From inside Halab (Aleppo), an expectedly unkempt and slightly dishevelled…
The US’s refusal to track civilian casualties in the conflict against Islamic State represents a radical departure from established military protocol. EPA/Sedat Suna

The politics of (not) counting: why war on terror’s civilian toll matters

Lieutenant-General James L. Terry, commander of US forces in Iraq and Syria, recently admitted he had no idea how many civilians have died as a result of coalition airstrikes in the region. In a briefing…
Hollywood films have long depicted Arabs in a negative light. Pictured is the movie poster from 1921’s The Sheik. Wikimedia Commons

American Sniper perpetuates Hollywood’s typical Arab stereotypes

The first Iraqis to appear in Clint Eastwood’s Iraq War drama, American Sniper, are a young mother and boy of maybe 12. They are seen from the point of view of the man who will kill them: Chris Kyle, the…
The US plans to arm and train ‘moderate’ rebels in Syria in addition to air strikes to defeat Islamic State forces. EPA/US Air Force

US plan to train ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels raises troubling questions

The United States' reluctance to become decisively committed to the complex quagmire in Syria is understandable. However, its plan to insert a US-trained-and-equipped “moderate rebel” force into the mix…

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