Australia Week in China won’t be affected by Canberra-Beijing tensions, officials say

April 15, 2018

New legislation in Australia aimed at curbing foreign interference in domestic affairs may be a sign of growing anxiety about China’s political influence in the country, but officials said it will not jeopardise a planned business event between the two nations.

“The timing of the next Australia Week in China is being discussed between the Australian and Chinese governments,” a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra said. Read more

In Syria, Trump must collude with Russia

April 13, 2018

President Donald Trump is under enormous pressure to respond militarily to the latest provocation by the Assad regime, but he would do so against all of his instincts and earlier pronouncements to end US military involvement in the Syrian war.

Just days before the chemical attacks in Douma, Trump announced he wanted US troops out of Syria within months, and that the fight against the Islamic State was largely completed.  Read more

Australia is the meat in the US-China trade war sandwich

April 7, 2018

US President Donald Trump has brought the world closer to a trade war that could plunge the rules-based global order into an existential crisis. The imposition of tariffs on imported steel and aluminium last month were the opening shots in Trump’s campaign “to level the playing field” for US firms. But his threat to impose punitive tariffs on China, including $US100 billion ($130bn) of additional tariffs on Thursday, risks triggering a serious confrontation with global implications that would be bad news for Australia. Read more

Entrenched Islamic State ‘caliphate’ in Philippines could bring chemical, suicide attacks to Australian cities

March 19, 2018

There are growing signs that Islamic State cells are preparing for violent insurgencies in southern Philippines to build a prized so-called caliphate on Australia’s backdoor.

The establishment of an entrenched caliphate in the Philippines, at worst, brings the risk of suicide bombers and chemical weapons attacks in Australian cities, a leading Australian expert has warned. Read more

Entrenched Islamic State ‘caliphate’ in Philippines could bring chemical, suicide attacks to Australian cities

March 19, 2018

There are growing signs that Islamic State cells are preparing for violent insurgencies in southern Philippines to build a prized so-called caliphate on Australia’s backdoor.

The establishment of an entrenched caliphate in the Philippines, at worst, brings the risk of suicide bombers and chemical weapons attacks in Australian cities, a leading Australian expert has warned. Read more

A Turning Point in the Kurdish-Western Alliance?

March 1, 2018

The arrest in a Prague hotel of former Syrian Kurdish PYD (Democratic Union Party) leader Saleh Muslim Muhammad is a test case. Its outcome will establish the extent to which the central role Syrian Kurds have played in the fight against Islamic State has accrued some broader political legitimacy for their leadership and organizations.

Czech authorities arrested Muslim over the weekend after a Turkish participant at a conference in Prague took a photograph of him that was published by the Milliyetnewspaper. Read more

Hackers see democracy as a weakness ripe for exploitation

February 28, 2018

The US Justice Department’s ­indictment of Russian interference in the 2016 US election makes for sobering reading and has direct implications for ­Australia.

Its 37 pages forensically detail the audacious tactics employed by Russia to undermine the electoral processes of a sovereign state, our ally and fellow democracy, raising the question of whether the integrity of our own elections also may be compromised one day. Read more

Journalists don’t grasp extent of foreign spying: ex-intelligence chief

February 11, 2018

The national security establishment believes the media doesn’t appreciate the extent of Chinese, Russian and other nations’ intelligence operations in Australia and wants more press coverage of the problem, according to a former senior intelligence official.

Speaking amid a backlash from media companies and journalists towards tough new laws governing intelligence leaks, Ross Babbage, a former head of strategic analysis at the Office of National Assessments, said security officials did not want to limit press freedoms, which they saw as aiding the fight against foreign spy agencies. Read more

New world order: momentum is shifting in favour of dictators

February 10, 2018

Are Russia and China deliberately undermining democracies in order to replace the Western-led liberal international order with their own authoritarian model? This is the central claim by the recently released US defence strategy, the most important in a generation. And it’s a belief that is driving the Turnbull government’s tougher response to foreign interference. Read more

No ‘Russian Option’ for Israel in Syria

February 9, 2018

Why the failed Russian Sochi conference matters for Israel

The clear failure of Russia’s ‘Syrian National Dialogue Conference’ in the Black Sea resort of Sochi shows the limitations of the policy adopted by Moscow with regard to the Syrian civil war.  Since Israeli diplomatic efforts to contain the westward advance of Iran and its proxies in Syria are to a considerable extent dependent on the notion of Russian potency and effectiveness in this arena, decisionmakers in Jerusalem will have been watching the unfolding events at the conference with interest and some concern. Read more