Middle East

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When Australians hear about Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s dire warnings and counter-terrorism raids, they could lose historical perspective on the threat posed by Islamic State. AAP/Mal Fairclough

With jihadists among us, is IS more of a threat than communism was?

Dire government warnings and counter-terrorism raids in our suburbs paint a picture of the worst threat Western nations have ever faced. A little historical perspective is in order.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Diggers of the Gaza graveyard

We are used to thinking of Gaza as a war-torn stretch of ground. A place where life goes grimly on in the face of an intractable conflict. A graveyard not only for civilians caught in the crossfire, but…
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.
Iranians, who celebrated in the streets of Tehran following this month’s nuclear agreement, are keen to rebuild relations with the West. EPA/Abedin Taherkenareh

Julie Bishop can reach out to Iran now that confrontation has failed

By reaching out to Iran, Australia can help end a long stand-off with the West that prevented solutions to many of the world's most dangerous problems, including Syria's civil war and Islamic State.
Shaping how the war is perceived through disseminating communiques has become a key feature of the Syrian conflict. EPA/Youssef Badawi

The forgotten front: guerrilla radio and Syria’s information war

While social media was the main forum for Syrian demonstrators to confront Bashar al-Assad’s media machine in 2011, FM radio is now the battleground for Syrian hearts and minds.
The modern Saudi state rarely steps outside of its borders militarily unless it feels existentially threatened – as it is doing now in Yemen. EPA/Yahya Arhab

Saudi incursion in Yemen more about security than sectarianism

Saudi Arabia's incursion into Yemen is the latest manifestation of a long-standing struggle between it and Iran over statist issues of conflicting national interest, security and regional hegemony.
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.
The story of Jake Bilardi (centre) has distorted the characterisation of what most people think of as a radicalised individual. AAP/Twitter

Jake Bilardi’s story shows why terrorist intervention must be tailored

There will be more Jake Bilardis to come, and Australia must realise that no two cases will be entirely the same. Radicalised individuals will come from all areas of society.
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.

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