House debates

Tuesday, 1 December 2015


Iraq and Syria

9:00 pm

Photo of Michael DanbyMichael Danby (Melbourne Ports, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

A few weeks ago, we had the foreign minister of the Kurdish democratic provisional government in the regional Kurdish authority in northern Iraq visit this parliament. There are 20 million Kurds in the Middle East. Of all the nations in that benighted part of the world, I can think of few people who deserve their own independent state more than they do. Unfortunately, at the moment they are divided between the KDP, the Kurdish Democratic Party, which controls northern Iraq, and the PKK YPG, which are the Kurds who are in revolt against Turkey.

That whole part of the Middle East was divided by the colonial authorities after World War I in the famous Sykes-Picot Agreement, Sykes being the Englishman and Picot the Frenchman. They organised all of these artificial borders from which the Kurds were excluded. We see states that barely seem to exist such as Syria and Iraq, which are now in a terrible situation emerging from the weakness of these states. We see the rise of the jihadist group Daesh, which seems to control most of eastern Syria and western Iraq. They are IS, according to the current Prime Minister—some people call him Lord Turnbull, but he is the member for Wentworth. They are weaker in the area around Raqaa. In my view, this repeats the early mistake of President Obama, who compared the IS to a B-grade basketball team. They are weak, but in the week before last they had, by their criteria, one of their most successful weeks ever: killing 400 people in suicide bombings in Lebanon, dreadful attacks on civilian airliners in the Sinai and killing 139 beautiful young people simply enjoying themselves and living life to the full in Paris. That whole area in eastern Syria remains under the control of the so-called weak IS or Daesh. It is simply illogical for it to be left like that. In my view, it is not a question of boots on the ground; it is a question of whose boots on the ground. Surely, from all of our experiences, unless we want a repeat of the events of Paris, we understand that IS cannot be allowed to operate independently from that part of the world. We have the dreadful figure of al-Kambodi, as he calls himself, who manipulated the two deluded young people here in Endeavour Hills in Parramatta from his safe haven in Raqqa to do the kinds of attacks that they perpetrated here in Australia. It is very much something that affects our country as well.

Last week, the Kurds cut the highway between Raqqa and Mosul at Sinjar. A few days ago, Matt Brown—the good ABC reporter; the comprehensive ABC reporter; the man, as an ABC reporter, without ideological biases—heroically reported that they took Hasakah in eastern Syria. They have taken one part of the Mosul road in western Iraq and one part in eastern Syria, cutting off the easy supply lines from the nest of vipers of Daesh in Raqqa to the biggest city in Iraq, Mosul, which they control. The Kurds, with their allies in the Syrian Democratic Forces, are just 38 kilometres from Raqqa, where all this activity against innocent civilians around the world is based. I do not suggest that we send big Western armies—that was the mistake of the Bush-Rumsfeld doctrine—but surely we can train people who are willing to fight. The Kurds hate these people. Their families have been violated, raped and crucified et cetera by these barbarians in Daesh. Let's support them. The key question is not boots on the ground but whose boots on the ground. (Time expired)