Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has slammed the “unbelieveable” decision to deploy Australians to fight alongside Kurdish fighters in Iraq, saying it was “a decision that would have a major impact on the lives of Australian soldiers”.
The Australian government is facing criticism for the decision, which was announced at the start of the summer.
“It’s unconscionable that the government has made a decision to arm Kurdish forces with weapons in a war in which Australians are not fighting,” Ms Bishop told ABC radio.
Ms Bishop said the decision “would be hugely destabilising” for Australia’s allies in the region.
Australia is a member of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group (ISIS) in Iraq.
The decision comes after the Coalition for Iraqi Security, which is a US-backed Kurdish militia, was able to successfully capture the city of Mosul from the extremist group.
In her first public comments on the issue, Ms Bishop also rejected suggestions that the decision was part of a wider push by Australia to increase its military presence in the Middle East.
She said the Coalition’s aim was to increase Australia’s influence in the world.
“What Australia wants is to influence the world, not dominate it,” she said.
However, Ms Bachons decision drew strong criticism from her own colleagues in the Coalition.
Senator Brandis has accused the Coalition of “misleading” Australians about the situation in Iraq and the need to train Kurdish forces.
ABC News (@ABC) February 17, 2021″The Australians have to do their homework,” Senator Brandis said.
“The United States has an army of 400,000 that it’s sending to Iraq, that they’re training in the air.”
There are no Australians in those aircraft.
“But Ms Bishop said it was important to remember Australia’s long history in the international community.”
I think we’ve been a very active member of a range of international organisations that have been working on humanitarian and humanitarian issues around the world,” she told the ABC.”
We’ve supported countries like the United Nations in their efforts to improve conditions for people in conflict, and we’ve supported the UN to try and address the situation of displacement, in Syria.
“Ms Bishop, who also chairs the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, said it would be “difficult to believe” the Coalition would want to “force the Australian people to come to Iraq and fight”.”
It is difficult to believe the Coalition is in this for its own interests, and it’s difficult to understand why they would want Australians to come there,” she added.