Australia won’t risk lives to bring Islamic State brides and children to safety
Article RadarTHIS ARTICLE CONNECT:
- Islamic State ISIS is an Islamic extremist terrorist organization controlling territory in Iraq...[+]
Affected Countries: australia;
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has declared the government “will not jeopardise the lives of any other Australians” in response to a sudden decision by the United States to withdraw troops from parts of Syria now home to Australian women and children left behind by Islamic State.
Senator Reynolds played down the prospect of action to help the families of former foreign fighters in northern Syria, where 20 Australian women and 46 children could be caught in fighting between Turkish and Kurdish forces.
The statement came amid an incendiary dispute over US President Donald Trump’s move to withdraw the troops and allow Turkey to move in, sparking accusations he had betrayed Kurdish soldiers who had fought with the US and Australia for years.
Senator Reynolds said the government had seen reports of Mr Trump’s decision and would wait for more information before deciding its response.
Asked if the US could be trusted to keep agreements with its allies, the Defence Minister said it was an “unfolding situation” and it was too soon to speculate on what might happen.
On the Australians held in camps in Kurdish territory, however, Senator Reynolds made it clear there would be no operation to remove them from the conflict.
“Any consideration of action by the Australian government will of course have to take into consideration the lives of anyone else we may send into the region, and of course we will not jeopardise the lives of any other Australians,” she said.
Australian National University professor John Blaxland said the Kurdish people would suffer from the withdrawal of US troops in response to pressure from Turkish president Recep Erdogan.
“The message is very, very clear: these Kurds, who have basically been the United States’ principal ally against Daesh or Islamic State, now look like being thrown under a bus for the expedience of Donald Trump’s apparent negotiations with President Erdogan,” he told Sky News.
Senator Reynolds and Labor defence spokesman Richard Marles made no criticism of Mr Trump’s decision.
“The United States have made their decision. It is a really complex situation,” Mr Marles said.
“It’s important that as this plays out, it plays out in a calm and measured way and that it does so with a view to reducing those tensions rather than increasing them.”
Mr Marles said it was best to wait on advice from national security agencies before commenting on whether to help the stranded Australian families.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale blamed Mr Trump for creating a situation that could lead to an invasion of Kurdish areas by Turkish forces, leading to a humanitarian crisis.
“The Kurdish people have put their lives on the line to help defeat ISIS,” Senator Di Natale said.
“They have helped the Yazidi people escape genocide. President Trump’s dangerous and erratic decision, enacted apparently with no foresight or consideration of the consequences, is an act of callous betrayal.”
The heightened concern for the Australian women and children in the al-Hawl refugee camp comes after high-profile Islamic State bride Zehra Duman learned her Australian citizenship has been cancelled, sparking fears for the future of her young children.
Labor’s home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally expressed concern for “children who are innocent victims of their parents’ decision” and called for action.
“We do hold concerns, as do the government, about the well-being and the safety of these children,” Senator Keneally told ABC radio.
Ms Duman, who also holds Turkish citizenship and is aged in her mid-20s, was informed of the Australian government’s decision in recent days. The move to cancel her citizenship – first reported by The New Daily and confirmed by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age – leaves Ms Duman in limbo in Syria.
Ms Duman left for Syria in 2014, marrying Islamic State fighter Mahmoud Abdullatif, who reportedly died in 2015.
Social media posts have previously indicated Ms Duman was an enthusiastic supporter of the Islamic State cause during her time in the “caliphate” but she has recently rejected the terror group.
Source: The Age