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  • Israeli election 2015: six stand-outs

    Posted 27/03/2015 by Marty Harris

    Following a typically lively 14-week campaign, Israelis went to the polls on 17 March. Incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will almost certainly remain in that post, most probably forming a right-wing/religious coalition.

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    TAGS: Middle East, Australian foreign policy

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  • ‘Diplomatic terrorism’: Palestinian statehood, the United Nations, and Australia’s voting record

    Posted 5/12/2014 by Marty Harris

    The issue of Palestinian statehood is once again before the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). In September 2011, the Palestinian Authority submitted an application for full UN membership. Needing UNSC approval for such a bid, the application was eventually withdrawn or not fully pursued, under the public threat of a US veto. Now, with a new application possible, a look back at Australia’s voting record on this issue provides some hints as to how Australia might vote if an application for Palestinian United Nations membership is made before 31 December.

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    TAGS: Middle East,Australian foreign policy

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  • Say that again: Iraq and the terrorist threat

    Posted 4/09/2014 by Nigel Brew
    On 1 September 2014, the Prime Minister delivered in parliament a Statement on Iraq in which he condemned the ongoing violence and outlined the next phase of the Government’s humanitarian intervention. However, in declaring that would-be terrorists ‘don’t hate us for what we do; but for who we are and for how we live’, Mr Abbott has revived a key element of the Howard Government refrain from over 10 years ago that Australia’s involvement in the US-led ‘War on Terror’ and the conflict in Iraq did not make Australia more of a terrorist target. Read more...

    TAGS: Middle East; national security; terrorism

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  • The Islamic Caliphate and Australia

    Posted 25/07/2014 by Wendy Bruere

    In June 2014, the Islamic State (IS) declared an Islamic Caliphate spanning the area from Syria’s Aleppo governorate in the west, to Iraq’s province of Diyala in the east. The area under IS control now covers up to one third of Iraq, including the city of Mosul, which previously had a strong Christian community, but who have now mostly been forced to flee.

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    TAGS: Middle East, terrorism, terrorist groups, United Nations, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation

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  • Syria: losing ground in the fight to eradicate polio

    Posted 15/04/2014 by Wendy Bruere
    Polio resurfaced in Syria late last year, and has now been found in Iraq as well, leading to concerns that this could reverse gains in international efforts to eradicate the virus. A side effect of the conflict in Syria, now running for over three years, is that for many children vaccinations have lapsed.  According to the BBC‘Vaccination rates in Syria fell from 91 per cent of children before the war to an estimated 68 per cent in 2012. But those are national figures. In rebel-held... Read more...

    TAGS: United Nations, children's health, aid, Middle East, refugees

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  • Impact of drought in the Middle East

    Posted 28/03/2014 by Wendy Bruere
    According to a Reuters report from 7 March, United Nations (UN) agencies and water and agricultural authorities are preparing to declare a drought in the Middle East. Aside from the immediate impact of drought on crops, water scarcity is already a problem in parts of the Middle East, and some of the most affected countries are already struggling to absorb hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. Read more...

    TAGS: Middle East, foreign aid, United Nations

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  • Australia and the Arab-Israeli conflict: from ‘choosing the least of a number of evils’ to ‘strong backers of a two-state solution’

    Posted 15/08/2012 by Marty Harris
    Since the early days of Israel’s creation, the Australian Government’s position on the Arab-Israeli conflict has been of much public and political interest. The Parliamentary Library has just published two comprehensive Background Notes, Australia and the Middle East conflict: a history of key Government statements (1947–2007) and The Rudd and Gillard Governments and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: November 2007–May 2012, which outline the evolution of Australia’s position on the dispute and... Read more...

    TAGS: Australian foreign policy, Middle East

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  • The expulsion of Syrian diplomats

    Posted 30/05/2012 by Marty Harris
    Image source: Voice of America
    On 29 May 2012 the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr, announced that the highest ranking Syrian diplomat in Australia, Chargé d'Affaires Jawdat Ali, was being expelled from the country in response to recent atrocities in Syria. Ali and one other Syrian diplomat were given 72 hours to leave Australia. There has been no Syrian Ambassador to Australia since Tammam Sulaiman left Australia in October 2010. It has been suggested that the Australian Government has been delayi... Read more...

    TAGS: Australian foreign policy, Middle East

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  • Syria’s constitutional referendum—‘quite laughable’ or ‘better late than never’?

    Posted 27/02/2012 by Marty Harris
     On Sunday 26 February 2012 Syria conducted a referendum on a new constitution. An amended constitution is one of the concessions promised by the Syrian Government in response to long-running unrest. Votes are currently being counted, and results should be released in coming days. This post briefly discusses the proposed changes to the constitution, as well as domestic and international reactions to the referendum.The 1973 Constitution establishes Syria as a ‘democratic, popular, soc... Read more...

    TAGS: Middle East

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  • The Egyptian constitutional referendum of March 2011: a new beginning?

    Posted 29/03/2011 by Marty Harris
    Man waving the egyptian flag on top of a Lion statueThe ousting of the Egyptian Government in February 2011 was followed by a referendum on constitutional changes, held on 19 March. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the interim ruling body following the departure of President Hosni Mubarak on 11 February, suspended the 1971 constitution and dissolved parliament on 13 February. A drafting committee of jurists was appointed to write proposed constitutional amendments, the idea being that once a referendum on the changes was held, parliamenta... Read more...

    TAGS: international relations, Middle East

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