Malcolm Turnbull is back from his summit-season trip. He travelled to Indonesia, Germany, the G20 summit in Turkey, Apec meeting in the Philippines and the East Asian Summit in Malaysia. Simultaneously two other important meetings were occurring; the Vienna Summit on Syria and the United Nations Security Council meeting in New York. All meetings had the threat posed by the ISIS group and “Islamic extremism” as their top talking point after the attacks in Paris.
Malcolm Turnbull seems to have undertaken a mutation; talking tougher on terror – undoubtedly receiving instructions about how Australia should serve American Interests by exploiting the terror threat. In fact, his first announced task upon touching down is to convene a meeting of the National Security Committee on his return.
In the last sitting fortnight of parliament for the year, national security is set to feature heavily, with the Citizenship (Allegiance to Australia) bill set to pass.
Below are some key quotes from Turnbull’s whirlwind tour which will help place things into perspective. In summary, we can expect:
- Further draconian security laws that will continue to wither away perceived freedoms.
- An upping in anti-Islam/Muslim rhetoric from the establishment.
- Renewed international efforts in trying to broker a secular political solution in Syria which aims at power sharing between the various groups (“like Lebanon”); inclusion of the Assad regime in this deal is likely.
- Regional Muslim countries asked to broker and monitor any peace deals for Syria.
- Overt western backing of certain secular rebel groups against “ISIS” and their “like”.
- Intensification of calls to the Muslim community to spearhead the West’s campaign against Islamic Ideals.
- Eventual peace keeping force will be a last resort, but a regional peacekeeping force is likely. A western ground invasion will be an absolute last resort in order not to repeat historical “mistakes”.
“The regimes in Iraq and Syria – tyrannies though they were – were secular tyrannies. That’s to say Christians were not persecuted by reason of being Christians as a general rule.”
“And as you know, there is a centre being established here in Kuala Lumpur which…counter[s] these extremist narratives which regrettably are drawing a lot of young people from the path of moderation and good sense.”
“Australians in particular should not forget that we are making the second largest military contribution in that theatre after the United States. But there is also, of course, the political dimension and that is why you’ve seen the agreement or consensus arising out of the Vienna meeting to endeavour ”
“The key to a political settlement in Syria is finding a mechanism where the aggrieved Sunni majority of that country can feel included… not ‘feel’, but be included in a new government which shares power between the various groups.”
“So the inclusion of the Sunnis, this is the people and their leaders, their often tribal leaders, in a settlement is a key part. Because that takes away the foundation, the constituency that Daesh has been preying on and that’s the focus.”
“His (Obama) view is that the presence of foreign armies in that theatre at the present time would be counterproductive given the lessons of history, relatively recent history.”
“You can go all through all of these various terrorist incidents some of them claim to be related to particular military activities others are simply a political assault on our way of life an attempt to make a political, religious political attack on our way of life.”
“In terms of Syria which we (Putin & Turnbull) spoke about at some length, I was very interested to understand his perspective on it. He also believes a political settlement is required. He has a view as to how that can be achieved as I think all parties do.”
“I mean where Syria, in an ideal world would end up, if you like, is with a regime or a form of government that involved power sharing between the various groups. Obviously the example of Lebanon is one that springs to mind you know given its proximity – where there is representation for people for the various religious groups. That’s very important.”
“Now as for the Grand Mufti I understand, I’ve seen the controversy reported in the press, I’ve noted also that he has clarified that initial statement and that seems to have cleared up the issue but I don’t want to, while I’m here in Manila, engage in a textual debate, but I am pleased to see his condemnation of Daesh, and of that terrorist attack, has been made very clear in his subsequent remarks.”
“I’d also remind you of what the Federal Police Commissioner, Andrew Colvin, observed a few days ago, that historically, individuals within Australia who have been guilty of involvement in terrorist activities have been second or third generation Australians.”
“So, clearly the, as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, said in Turkey, and I endorse what he said, the approach of all the parties to a resolution in Syria has to be one undertaken in the spirit of compromise, and in a spirit of pragmatism.”
“What is needed is a pragmatic settlement, as quickly as possible. There needs to be a ceasefire as has been asked for in Vienna, and there needs to then be a power-sharing deal, as I mentioned, you know the example of Lebanon is given…”
“The security challenges in the Middle East, of course, featured large in our discussion (with Obama) and in all of our thinking today.”
“And we will continue, shoulder-to-shoulder, with the United States and our allies in the fight against this type of extremist violence, this type of terrorism.”
“We’ve just finished last night a very long discussion on terrorism, on security and the leaders of the G20 nations are utterly united in a commitment to defeat terrorism. We had a very good discussion about domestic policies, about international policies and there was again, very strong statements especially from the leaders of the big Muslim countries in the room. Indonesia – of course the largest, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and others repeating what they have been saying. Especially since the attack in Paris but for a very long time, that the claims by these terrorist groups, by Daesh or ISIL, to be speaking in the name of God, to be speaking in the name of Islam are absolutely blasphemous. They do not, these Islamic leaders repeat, they do not speak in the name of Islam. They defame Islam. They are an abomination to religion and they reject them utterly. ”
“We are determined to defend our common freedoms and values and we are jointly committed to drive the counter-terrorism agenda, including in the G20. We agreed today to deepen the EU-Australia relationship which is rooted in our common interests, values and heritage.”
“The most effective boots on the ground are going to be Syrian boots on the ground. The support of the Syrian, Free Syrian Army, for example, which is a very high priority on the part of the Turkish government, whose President I was speaking with earlier today, of course, is best able to take on the defence of its own country.”
“If the great powers can have a common purpose, so that what is happening in Syria is not a proxy war, then there is a greater prospect of there being a political settlement on the ground.”
“But there appears, you know there are, there are some good signs coming out of Vienna, and a settlement, some form of transition to a new government, there may well be a role for peacekeepers. But I’d have to say that I think the most – it would be very important that any external peacekeeping forces were, wherever possible, provided by countries within this region, because that is, they are likely to receive greater acceptance from the people in Syria”
“We also, as the President (Widodo) said, talked about the challenge of violent extremism and we are in a, we have a common, a common struggle there. I have to say Mr President that I was very impressed by your, your deep reflection on this and your three fold approach to dealing with violent extremism, security, the law enforcement approach which of course is a vital part of the religious approach. Making it clear that what these extremist groups are preaching is not, is not the Islam that, that your nation endorses and that your people practice.”
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