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Kurds aren’t always the good guys

I have written recently about the recklessness of Kurdish leaders in staging their independence referendum. Rather than advance the Kurdish cause, it has probably set it back years, if not decades. Despite its laudable efforts against Islamic State, the Kurdish Regional Government has 

Kurdistan’s strategic overreach

There is no doubt that the Kurds have been unfairly dealt with as an ethno-linguistic group throughout modern history. They’re not alone in this, but they are probably in a different category as far as the West is concerned, as they have sometimes proven to be good allies. Their recent efforts in

Riyadh’s Shia two-step

Iraqi Shia Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's reconciliation tour of Sunni-run Gulf states continued this week, following up his visit to Riyadh to see Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with a visit to the UAE. There he was met by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayad. There is little doubt

Saudi Arabia’s change of tack on Iraq

For too long, the Saudis have complained about the 'loss' of Iraq to Iranian influence without acknowledging that their almost complete refusal to establish ties with Baghdad achieved little other than creating the vacuum that Tehran has sought to fill. But there are signs that Riyadh has

Quick comment: Rodger Shanahan on Neil Prakash

We are learning more about the arrest of the Australian terrorist, Neil Prakash, in Turkey late last week. Writing in The Australian yesterday, Paul Maley revealed the Australian Federal Police anticipated Prakash would try to cross from Syria into Turkey and were on hand in Ankara to help confirm

Retaking Mosul will be hard, but Raqqa will be harder

Today Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop observed that the Mosul offensive is an 'important milestone' in the battle against Islamic State; there is no doubt retaking the city would seriously dent both IS capabilities and morale. But it would not be a fatal blow. The Iraqi Army and its

Wednesday Lunch at Lowy - Lydia Khalil presentation

In the Wednesday Lunch on 24 September, Non–resident Fellow Lydia Khalil shared her recent experiences traveling and working in Iraq and Afghanistan and discussed how commonalities can be applied to successful stability operations in these and any other potential conflict zone

Iraq and its consequences

On Friday 29 June, the Lowy Institute for International Policy explored the longer term implications of the Iraq war in a conference entitle 'What lies ahead? The Iraq war and international politics'. The conference featured two leading American commentators, William Kristol, editor of the Weekly

Hardly a war to end war

The Lowy Institute's Program Director for International Security, Rory Medcalf, looks at how the Iraq conflict might affect Western countries' future decisions on the use of force. He argues that this impact will be less straightforward than the war's magnitude as a US strategic error might suggest

Costanza Doctrine Q&A

Dr Michael Fullilove participated in an online Q&A session on his Financial Times op-ed on the Costanza Doctrine. Readers' questions and Dr Fullilove's answers are available at or can be downloaded here.The original opinion piece was published on 29 March 2007

Seinfeld and the Iraq war

Dr Michael Fullilove published an op-ed in The Financial Times on 30 March 2007 arguing that only Seinfeld can fully explain the US's invasion of Iraq. The article is available below. Dr Fullilove also participated in an online Q&A session on Readers' questions and Dr Fullilove's answers

Success may bring dangers of its own

In this opinion piece in The Australian, Anthony Bubalo, Program Director for West Asia, writes that signs of an easing in the Iraq security situation raise questions about what would happen if the surge in US troops was a success.The Australian, 20 March 2007, p. 12

Another accountability moment

In this opinion piece, which appeared in The Australian on Monday 12 March 2007, Dr Michael Fullilove argues that unlike their more scrupulous American counterparts, Australian supporters of the Iraq war have not held themselves to account.The Australian, 12 March 2007, p. 8

UN bashing

Dr Michael Fullilove reviews a new book on the UN and Iraq in the March 2007 edition of the Australian Book Review. The book in question is David M. Malone, The International Struggle over Iraq: Politics in the UN Security Council 1980-2005 (OUP, 2006).Australian Book Review, No. 289, March 2007

Heavy artillery trained on PM

Dr Michael Fullilove comments on the disagreement between Prime Minister John Howard and Senator Barack Obama in this op-ed in The Australian Financial Review on 13 February 2007. Dr Fullilove argues there are two troubling developments. First, the tenor of the Prime Minister's intervention will

Don't think it's over

In this opinion piece in The Australian, Owen Harries argues that notwithstanding the debacle unfolding in Iraq, the Bush doctrine of preventive war, regime change and aggressive unilateralism is not necessarily dead. The Australian, 19 December 2006, p. 10

Trouble looms, whichever path Bush takes

In this opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald, Lowy Institute Visiting Fellow Hugh White discusses the costs and risks of staying in Iraq and of leaving Iraq. Sydney Morning Herald, 19 December 2006, p. 11. A version of this opinion piece was also published in The Age, 19 December

End of simplicity

In the wake of Iraq, Australia needs to develop a more nuanced foreign policy, suggests Owen Harries.This op-ed is adapted from his recent Perspective, After Iraq. The Australian, 1 December 2006, p. 12

After Iraq

In this new Perspective, Owen Harries, one of Australia's leading commentators and a Visiting Fellow at the Lowy Institute, writes on US and Australian foreign policy 'After Iraq'.In the last three and a half years, 'Iraq' has come to stand for many things beyond a geographical location and a state

Democratisation dilemmas in the Middle East

Islamist election victories in Iraq, Egypt and the Palestinian territories have intensified the controversy over whether Washington's democratisation push in the Middle East is transforming the region for the better or simply empowering America's enemies. On 15th March 2006 at Wednesday Lunch at

Costs of a needless war

Professor Owen Harries, Visiting Fellow at the Lowy Institute, argues that the United States has devalued its military standing by going to war in Iraq, and that its overwhelming military power is most effective as a deterrent rather than as an active force for change.  Tha Australian, 18 July

Getting the job done: Iraq and the Malayan Emergency

Dealing with the entrenched insurgency in Iraq is the largest task facing the new Iraqi government, Washington and its allies. In a new Lowy Institute Perspectives, Dr. Milton Osborne, one of Australia's leading historians of Southeast Asia, analyses what lessons we can draw for Iraq from colonial