Skirt-fronting Putin Can Help Eradicate Islamic State Crisis…writes David Singer

October 22, 2014 by David Singer
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The possibility of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott shirt-fronting Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Brisbane next month over the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 in Ukrainian sovereign territory with the loss of all on board – including 38 Australians – has receded following Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s 25 minute meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the Asian Europe Summit held in Milan this week.

Abbott had vowed:

“I’m going to shirtfront Mr Putin. I am going to be saying to Mr Putin Australians were murdered. There’ll be a lot of tough conversations with Russia and I suspect the conversation I have with Mr Putin will be the toughest conversation of all.”

“Shirtfront” is an Australian slang term used in Australian Rules football to describe;

a head-on charge aimed at bumping an opponent to the ground” 

ABC News reported on Bishop’s meeting with Putin:

“The Foreign Minister said she received assurances from Mr Putin that he would help facilitate access to the crash site for international investigators but could not confirm a timeframe in which the Russian president would act.

“I had a very detailed discussion with him. I expressed our concerns about the Malaysia Airlines crash. He said that he would seek to respond to my request by asking the separatists to provide that access.

I announced to the gathered world leaders that I’d had a conversation with President Putin and that he had been most cooperative and had responded very constructively to my request that Russia use its influence to ensure that the independent investigators can have access to the crash site of MH17.”

Hopefully such access will have occurred well before the G20 leaders meet.

Putin however should not believe he will have a trouble free ride in sunny and welcoming Brisbane.

Australia punches well above its weight and is a member of the American-led coalition fighting Islamic State (IS) in Iraq – whilst carefully avoiding confronting IS in neighbouring Syria.

Australia – also currently a member of the United Nations Security Council – should be increasingly concerned at the lack of a specific Security Council Resolution authorising the use of force against IS.

Bishop was alerted to Iraq’s frustrations with the Security Council – when Iraqi Foreign Minister Al-Ja’afari stated at a joint press conference with Bishop in Baghdad on 18 October:

“We have requested assistance with air strikes, logistic preparations, and the provision of intelligence information from the Head of UN Security Council and all the member countries. We also asked for their help with humanitarian assistance for 100,000 people who have been internally displaced from Mosul and other areas in Iraq. We have asked a number of countries to help us in rebuilding infrastructure, especially in Mosul…

…The clear message we send to the Head of the UN Security Council was that any country that wants to work with us needs to coordinate and communicate closely with the relevant authorities. The main points we have mentioned in our letter to the Head of the UN Security Council and to coalition member countries and non-member countries such as China and Iran are that they must avoid striking civilian targets and residential areas. China and Iran have offered to help Iraq. China is not a member of the coalition. We will work with any countries that want to help and assist Iraq even if they are not members of the coalition”

The idea that China and Iran should offer any help to Iraq outside the American – led coalition – which itself is operating without Security Council authorisation – seems a recipe for disaster.

Only a UN Security Council mandated force – backed by Russia – can degrade and destroy IS and end what has become a crisis of increasing international concern.

Putin – from his perspective – needs to ensure that the passage of any such Security Council resolution does not result in Syria’s President Assad being removed from power.

Russian and Iranian national interests in Syria dictate that Assad remains in power – whilst his American-supported opponents attempt to overthrow him in a conflict that has raged for more than three years and seen over 200000 deaths and three million refugees – with no end in sight.

Putin has previously supported a Security Council resolution that removed a common threat to both American and Russian interests – Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal – whilst leaving Assad untouched.

The looming threat that battle-hardened Chechens fighting for IS represent for Russia is made chillingly clear in this report:

“When the Islamic State commander known as “Omar the Chechen” called to tell his father they’d routed the Iraqi army and taken the city of Mosul, he added a stark message: Russia would be next.

“He said ‘don’t worry dad, I’ll come home and show the Russians,’” Temur Batirashvili said from his home in Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge, on the border with the Russian region of Chechnya. “I have many thousands following me now and I’ll get more. We’ll have our revenge against Russia.”

Iran’s Shiite population has no illusions about the threat the Sunni ideologically-based Islamic State poses.

America and Russia face that same common threat.

Ms Bishop – meeting Putin again in Brisbane on the sidelines of the G20 Summit – could be the catalyst persuading Putin to back a Security Council resolution to eradicate the Islamic State.

“Skirt-fronting” could well become the new buzz word in international diplomacy.

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


5 Responses to “Skirt-fronting Putin Can Help Eradicate Islamic State Crisis…writes David Singer”
  1. Eion Isaac says:

    The re activation of the Old alliance against Nazism is Welcome but to contain not defeat Sunni Islamic State .This could have occurred way back in 1938 when the Soviets wanted to establish Collective security with Britain and France against Nazi expansion into Czechoslovakia but where Rebuffed.Being Ruthless Realapolitic they went with the Nazis in the NaziSoviet Pact of August 1939 .This became a near Catastrophe with the Nazis occopying much of Europe with their Genocidal Race Aryan super race Psychotic Brutality.

    • david singer says:


      You would think the world would have learnt the lesson of World War 2 – but again they are vacillating.

      This conflict is not about containment. Islamic State has occupied Iraqi and Syrian sovereign territory – both of whom are UN member States. Action to throw them out is necessary if the UN is not going to end up following the fate of its predecessor the League of Nations..

      If Islamic State is allowed to occupy the territory of two member states – what will happen if it goes into and occupies parts of other states – eg Lebanon and Jordan?

  2. Bernhard Kirschner says:

    Dear David,
    Thankyou for your very clear analysis in J-Wire 22 Oct 2014, and I take no issue with the remedy that you have suggested.
    However, IS like Ebola, is not something that can be stopped with force or the resources available.
    You cannot isolate Africa to destroy the Ebola virus, and even if you did isolate and limit its spread, it will not destroy the virus.
    Without a vaccine against Ebola, it will become a plague that can kill untold millions.
    I do believe that we will find an effective vaccine taken from the antibodies in survivors, and we will survive.

    But IS is derived from an idea, the revived belief derived of a future religion based empire in a changing world where religion is just one concept facing challenge.
    Some religious observers, not only Muslims are becoming more extremist in their fear of change and in their attempts to remain relevant.
    IS is like a virus that unless you can inoculate every believer, will spread.
    The idea of a great caliphate behind a wall where the modern world can be barred is appealing to too many, especially the confused.
    We may be able to push IS out of Syria and Iraq this decade, but like a virus, it will grow somewhere else, even under another name.
    We have seen each Muslim ‘freedom’ movement becoming more extreme and dangerous.
    So no matter the resources allied against IS, it cannot be destroyed only by force, however unlike Ebola the IS concept can be limited to some extent by force.
    The antibody for IS is time and/or education and/or prosperity and/or technology and/or finding a alternative belief that can act as a vaccine.

    • david singer says:


      The point I am trying to make is that in both cases only feet on the ground can make a change to countering both Ebola and ISIL. The world is sending in health workers to fight Ebola but not troops to fight ISIL.Hopefully the health workers – taking enormous personal risks – will end the Ebola virus. ISIL will run rampant until it is met head on – and continues to be met head on whenever and wherever it spreads.

      No time to ponder about what might be in the future.

      Our heads are on the chopping block now!

      Go ask the hundreds of thousands dispossessed and traumatised already – as Islamic State has taken control of an area larger than Great Britain in just four months.

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