Islamic State – APEC A Fizzer – G20 Promises No Better

November 14, 2014 by David Singer
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The 2014 APEC Conference in Beijing this past week has been and gone and the G20 Conference in Brisbane is taking place in Brisbane this weekend…writes David Singer.

If the APEC Conference is any guide the world leaders assembled in Australia will have little to say about the meteoric rise of Islamic State (IS) over the past six months and the threat to world peace and security Islamic State poses.

Expectations were high that Islamic State would be discussed at the APEC Conference.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key declared before the meeting:

“It’s very hard to believe that leaders won’t spend a lot of time talking about that [Islamic State].

And if you think about risks to the global economy, certainly one of the risks is that there’s a very, very significant meltdown of the situation in the Middle East. And if you saw that then the economic risks to the world are very significant.”

Two days later at meeting’s end he was singing a different song admitting that:

“discussions about IS played just a small part in the APEC talks, with leaders focused on progressing two significant free trade deals.”

Key however revealed he had had a conversation on IS with US President Barack Obama “on the sidelines” of the conference – telling reporters:

“He is very much in agreement with me that ultimately the real issue here is one of diplomacy.”

He said Mr Obama was quite confident about the capacity of new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to reach out to Sunnis and be much more inclusive.

“I think him and I are very much on the same page – that you need some military capability and clearly need to try and control and rein in Isis but on the other side of the coin if you are really looking for a long term solution, it has got to come from people feeling as though they are part of the long-term solution to Iraq.”

If Obama’s sentiments have been accurately reported by Key – then the US President has changed tack for the third time in four weeks going from initially planning to “degrade and destroy” IS to “disrupting and delaying” IS and now planning “to try and control and rein in” IS.

How one can ever possibly deal with Islamic State diplomatically was not revealed.

Meanwhile Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was able to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry when they reportedly discussed a timeframe in combating Islamic State – as well as the work Australian Special Forces would be undertaking in combating IS in Iraq.

In her usual and frank manner Bishop made no bones of the difficult task ahead:

“I don’t think anybody was under any illusions that this would be easy. IS is well funded, well resourced, with apparently 16,000 fighters or more from 80 different countries. When you are dealing with an ideology, it’s very hard to know what a complete mission would look like.

It will take time, it will take effort from a number of countries.”

No doubt Bishop would have been very concerned to hear the evidence given today by Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan to a Parliamentary Committee examining new counter-terrorism legislation – known as the Foreign Fighters Bill.

Gaughan told the committee Australia’s control order regime needed to be overhauled with a lower threshold for evidence – so police can catch terror suspects. More Australians had managed to slip out of the country to join Islamic State fighters.

“I think what we’re missing is the ability to stop people – the enablers and the supporters. We haven’t got anything there”

There are some people who travelled a few days ago that were not on anyone’s radar.

We got wind of it after the fact but the fact is there are still people travelling.

And regardless of what we’re doing, we’re not stopping that, so we need some other tools.

Gaughan reportedly said greater powers were needed to stop those facilitating and supporting home-grown extremists.

“There are, I would say, a handful of facilitation groups operating up and down the east coast [of Australia] that at the moment are just far enough away from law enforcement that we can’t arrest them”.

The APEC Leaders Communique managed to mention the word “terrorism” just once:

“We commit to jointly tackle pandemic diseases, terrorism, natural disasters, climate change and other global challenges.”

The Communique showed more concern for wildlife than for human life being shed each day in the bloodbath that has become Syria and Iraq and threatens to spill over into surrounding countries:

“We commit to continue our efforts in combating wildlife trafficking. We will take steps to combat wildlife trafficking by enhancing international cooperation through Wildlife Enforcement Networks (WENs) and other existing mechanisms, reducing the supply of and demand for illegally traded wildlife, increasing public awareness and education related to wildlife trafficking and its impacts, and treating wildlife trafficking crimes seriously.”

Can one dare hope Obama and Putin might come together in Brisbane and agree on the terms of a Resolution to be put to the UN Security Council to confront Islamic State – which by its ongoing conquest of land and its inhabitants is threatening to make a mockery of every economic decision and prediction set to be taken and trumpeted at the G20?

Hopefully the Beijing babble will give way to serious business in Brisbane.

David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network


6 Responses to “Islamic State – APEC A Fizzer – G20 Promises No Better”
  1. david singer says:

    Since submission of my article the following development has taken place:

    Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State (Isis), has apparently surfaced alive after he was rumoured to have been killed in a US air strike last week, calling for attacks in Saudi Arabia and for “volcanoes of jihad” across the world.

    In a triumphant survey of what he described as the group’s growing influence, a tape made by a speaker claiming to speak on Baghdadi’s behalf mentioned Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. In Saudi Arabia, singled out in the message as the “head of the snake and stronghold of disease”, people were urged to “draw their swords” to fight and to kill Shia Muslims – referred to in pejorative sectarian terms as “rafidah”. Shia worshippers were indeed attacked in a terrorist shooting in the country’s Eastern Province 10 days ago.

    In Yemen, Baghdadi called for attacks on the “apostate” Houthis – rebels it is claimed are backed by Iran (seen as the embodiment of Shia power) who are fighting the central government in Sana’a.

    There was a mention too for the Sinai Peninsula, where “the people of jihad” – a group called Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis- are fighting the “Egyptian tyrant” and had “terrified the Jews”. God would grant victory, the recording said.

    It also attacked “lying media” in claiming that the coalition, which includes Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan and Bahrain, had hit Islamic State targets.

    “Be assured, O Muslims, for your state is good and in the best condition,” Baghdadi declared. “Its march will not stop and it will continue to expand, by Allah’s permission. The march of the mujahidin [Muslim holy warriors] will continue until they reach Rome. And soon, the Jews and Crusaders will be forced to come down to the ground and send their ground forces to their deaths and destruction.”

    The recording was obviously timed to provoke a response from the G20 leaders

    Hopefully they will all close ranks and take decisive steps to begin the process of obtaining a Security Council Resolution authorising the use of military force to degrade and destroy Islamic State.

  2. Adrian Jackson says:

    After WW1 the allies should have left the Ottoman Empire in place. The Ottomans ran an empire were the various tribes, races and religions generally live in harmony. The riots between Arabs and Zionists only started in the 20th Century after the empire was carved up. The situation we see today with every tribe, race, religion (or sect) at each other throat is a direct result of the Sykes/Picot declaration. The various civil wars in the region will go on for the rest of the 21st century.

    • David Singer says:

      What Sykes-Picot did pales into insignificance with what Islamic State is doing right now.

      • Adrian Jackson says:

        My last sentence covered that but IS is involved in only one of the regional civil wars. They stretch from Ukraine to Libya and south to Nigeria and Kenya. Russia was the country that was the main cause of WW1 which has lead ot most of this 100 years later.

        • david singer says:

          The war involving Islamic State is not a civil war in the region as you so naively suggest.

          The UN Security Council has already passed two resolutions under Chapter V11 of the UN Charter unanimously asserting that Islamic State is a threat to world order and security.

          The Security Council so far has been unable or unwilling to go the further step and pass a resolution under Article 42 of the Charter which states that the Security Council:

          …” may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.”

          Until this happens Islamic State will continue to reap havoc and mayhem wherever its tentacles extend.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      A. Jackson’s foray into history, while sitting pretty on a park bench, feeding ( and talking to )the birds, the excremental exploits of an irrelevant intruder, derail so ridiculously by singing the virtues of THE MOST retrograde political compost of the 21st Century in Europe,the Ottoman Empire. More than one hundred years after shaking off centuries of Turkish oppression, most countries of the Balkans are still tributary to the Ottoman rule and Turkey itself perilously going back into the darkness of fundamental islamic rule.

      On the main topic; the ostensive attitudes of countries seriously affected by the rise of IS, be it directly in armed conflict or tangentially through local agencies need to consider the important secretive strategies of the expanded enemy to which, it stands to reason, the response must be similar in M.O. All Western security agencies keep a certain distance from the public domain when “transparency” is expected.
      Political rhetoric must by guarded for obvious reasons and its analysis should keep in mind the natural expectation that all countries affected are seriously concerned, in spite of the lack of detail regarding response.Rhetoric must not incite and/or reveal what must be kept confidential for obvious tactical reasons.

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