Friday 19 Jul 2019 | 13:30 | SYDNEY
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Rodger Shanahan's picture
People | experts Rodger Shanahan
Research Fellow, West Asia Program
Lowy Institute
Rodger Shanahan's picture
Areas of ExpertiseMiddle East security issues; Political Islam; Shi’a Islam

Australia's military equipment in Yemen

It’s not often that the maritime environment features prominently in any Middle Eastern conflict, but in the waters of the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen there have been two noteworthy incidents recently, both of which have a decidedly Australian angle (even if these weren't obvious at first

Syria: What we could do now

I wrote previously about the practical difficulties of military intervention, difficulties which pundits and commentators gloss over when criticising Obama for doing nothing ('Syria: What Are We Going to do Now?').  One key element missing from the plans of the 'for God's sake let's do

Syria: What are we going to do now?

As the media becomes full with images of the bombing of Aleppo, calls for military action by Washington to stop civilian deaths become louder and louder. As a former military planner though, I side with President Obama when he says that he hasn’t seen a military option that stops the civil war

The secret life of Wyatt Roy

The former Member for Longman's surprise visit to Iraq is drawing plenty of criticism. The ALP's Penny Wong was perhaps the most savage, advising him that Iraq was not a 'place for people to act out their boyhood fantasies', while the foreign minister was also willing to criticise her former

The Syria (no big) peace deal

Ronald Reagan famously said of a nuclear agreement with the then Soviet Union that it was based on an attitude of 'trust, but verify'. Perhaps slightly contradictory but very realpolitik nonetheless. Thirty years later, Secretary of State John Kerry's admission that the latest Syrian cessation of

Australia stars in first edition of new ISIS magazine

The latest online magazine from Islamic State features an Australian flavour, among some other interesting aspects. First is the name change; no longer is 'Dabiq' the title (unless this masthead continues to put out editions separately); 'Rumiya' (formal Arabic for Rome) has replaced 'Dabiq'. As

Syria: Pity the children

Given the widespread use of social media in the contemporary age, and the lack of basic humanity shown by both the regime and the opposition forces, the Syria conflict should on the face of it engender a feeling of repulsion at the actions of both sides. And to a degree it does. But one of the

Jihadis and Vietcong redux

During the Vietnam War the Vietcong coined the term 'hanging onto the belts' of the enemy as a way of blunting the United States' overwhelming superiority in fire support.  In essence the tactic required the Vietcong to fight  American and allied forces in such close quarters that indirect

Same horse, different jihadi: JAN rebrands

Any marketer will tell you that when you think you've got a good product but it's not selling, then it's time to change the marketing. With that in mind, we should lend little weight to yesterday's announcement by the leader of Jabhat al-Nusra (JAN), Muhammad al-Jawlani, that his jihadi group has

Our media degrades the currency of fear

It has been written before, quite correctly, that a key strategy in dealing with the terrorist threat is national resilience. And one part of developing such resilience is language. The wrong choice of words can unnecessarily inflame or sensationalise a situation. Conversely, rational and

A very Turkish coup

Although coups and the Turkish military used to be synonymous, this weekend's attempted coup, while disturbing, was in the end not a very well executed one. The plan was launched after working hours and while President Recep Erdogan was on holidays, which showed a sense of timing. Apart from this

Islamic State demonstrates its deadly reach

The shocking attack by three terrorists on Kemal Ataturk airport has justifiably horrified us all.  And on the assumption that it has been carried out by Islamic State (the target selection of a tourism hub & lack of claim are similar to other such attacks) it reinforces the view that IS is

Syria: A mutiny at Foggy Bottom?

The controversy surrounding the the release of a draft cable critical of US government policy written by 51 State Department employees has garnered headlines, not so much for the fact that people within the bureaucracy are critical of the President's Syria strategy (given the complexity of the

Orlando and the ISIS model of terrorism

After the worst mass shooting in modern US history, theories and accusations abound. This was a hate crime against the LGBT community, not a terrorist incident; the perpetrator was religious/not religious; he was mentally ill/not mentally ill; may or may not have pledged allegiance to ISIS prior to

Fallujah: Déjà vu all over again

For such a nondescript city in Iraq, Fallujah has name recognition beyond its importance. In Western military circles at least the name is synonymous with the 2004 battle that turned into the bloodiest urban assault undertaken by the US military since Vietnam. Iraqi soldiers at Garma, part of the

Hizbullah's financial war of attrition

The death last week of Mustapha Badredinne, Hizbullah's chief of military operations in Syria, was certainly big news. His death highlights once again the cost in senior personnel that the civil war is exacting on the Lebanese Shi'a group. In December last year, Samir Kuntar was killed in an Israeli

Syria: What's in a name?

Most people understand what is involved in a ceasefire. Fewer would be familiar with the term 'cessation of hostilities', and there would not be many at all who would know what a 'regime of calm' means. This melange of terms reflects the challenges involved in brokering any kind of reduction in

Syria: What's in a name?

Most people understand what is involved in a ceasefire.  Fewer would be familiar with the term 'cessation of hostilities', and there would not be many at all who would know what a  'regime of calm' means. This melange of terms reflects the challenges involved in brokering any kind of reduction in

Syria: What's in a name?

Most people understand what is involved in a ceasefire.  Fewer would be familiar with the term 'cessation of hostilities', and there would not be many at all who would know what a  'regime of calm' means. This melange of terms reflects the challenges involved in brokering any kind of reduction in

Syria: Re-taking Palmyra is a good thing...isn't it?

News that a Syrian military coalition has re-taken the ancient city of Tadmur (Palmyra) is further evidence of the pressure ISIS is under, as well as the ability of the Syrian military to better its opponents when it operates as a combined-arms force. In this case, the Syrian military was once

Zarif in Australia: Iran has a skilled front-man

He came, he saw, he spoke well and left. The Iranian foreign minister's visit to Australia, the first in 22 years, made surprisingly few headlines. Sure, he came without a trade delegation in tow and during the middle of a sitting week but even so, for a massive underdeveloped market of over 80

Iran's ideological tussle

Unless they have been hiding under a rock, most people will realise that there’s an election coming up in the US at the end of this year. And whoever wins will have to face the usual thorny challenges thrown up by the Middle East. Fewer people however, are likely to be aware that in the Middle

Syria: The gift that keeps on giving

The official announcement today that the government would refuse a US request for additional assets to be deployed in the Middle East against Islamic State came as little surprise. These types of requests rarely come out of the blue, and it is likely that Washington was aware of what Canberra’s

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