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Iraq's humanitarian crisis grows

The operation to retake Mosul has reinvigorated the international community’s interest in the humanitarian dimensions of the conflict in Iraq. This has also resulted in a raft of recent donations to address the coming crisis – many groups estimate up to 1.5 million people could potentially being displaced or affected by the operation to retake the city. However, Iraq’s humanitarian and development needs extend far beyond the immediate requirements in Mosul. Read more...

Turkey: from bad to worse

The Turkish Government’s ongoing response to the 15 July coup will almost certainly exacerbate, rather than address, the significant problems it has been facing in recent years. Turkey’s Kurdish issue, the threat from Islamic State, Syrian refugees and its increasingly polarised society are key challenges for Turkey, as are its tumultuous foreign relationships. And these challenges will only be compounded by the inevitable divisions within the military following the failed coup and Erdoğan’s now-widespread efforts to purge the country of any opposition.  Read more...

Syria: losing ground in the fight to eradicate polio

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 territory, where all the polio cases so far have occurred, immunisation levels are much lower’. In some cases, the Syrian Government has been accused of deliberately excluding rebel-held areas ... Read more...

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

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 proposed solutions by exploring public statements made by each Australian Government over the past 65 years.On 10 May 1948, Prime Minister Ben Chifley, commenting on Australia’s support for the UN pl... Read more...

The expulsion of Syrian diplomats

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 delaying the processing of the credentials of the prospective new Ambassador, Mohammed Khaddou... Read more...

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

The 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, parliamentary, followed by presidential elections, could be held. The referendum was held on 19 March 2011, with 77 per cent voting in favour of the constitutional amendments. Voter turnout was about 41 per cent... Read more...

Libya and the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973

The wave of protests sweeping across the Middle East in recent months has seen demands for democratic reforms and regime change in several countries, including Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain. However, Libya quickly became the focus of international attention as government forces began firing upon their own civilians with heavy weaponry, and bombing population centres from the ground and air. An overview of how the unrest evolved into a humanitarian crisis is covered in more detail in a previous post. As the world’s attention turned to condemnation, calls for UN intervention grew stronger and more insistent. Following the failure of the Libyan Government to heed the warnings issued on 26 F... Read more...

The Libyan conflict in the context of Middle East revolutions

Over the past three months a wave of popular dissent triggered by long-standing grievances over poor living standards and insufficient domestic reforms has swept across the Middle East and North Africa. Thousands of citizens in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other regional countries demanded a change of political leadership, and immediate social, political and economic reforms. Unrest in the Middle EastTwo Middle Eastern countries, Egypt and Tunisia, have experienced a regime change over the past two months.In Tunisia, protests began in mid-December 2010 following an incident when a young Tunisian man self-immolated in front of a government building, protesting against the political and economic ... Read more...

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