Archive for March, 2016

Australia’s Longest Military Campaign

It’s interesting sometimes to see the perceptions of a war from other directions.  We all tend to be given a different version of events from a political standpoint depending where we happen to live.  However the internet gives us the chance to tip aside that curtain and view the news from another viewpoint.

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One of those chances was out this month with a new documentary being aired on Australia’s ABC channel called Afghanistan: Inside Australia’s War.  In it we can hear a host of former prime ministers, soldiers, generals and other high profile individuals give their insights into the longest military campaign that Australia has ever been involved in.  It’s unsure whether this documentary will be released outside Australia but you should be able to pick it up on the ABC iView player by using an Australian proxy for the next few weeks at least.

One of the star interviewees was the prime minister who took Australia into this war, a decision he was extremely apprehensive about even then.  Now over 15 years later this documentary is the closest people will find out about what has been happening to the Australian military presence in Afghanistan and how their soldiers have adapted to the difficult situations they have been placed in.

There are also lots of interviews with both Australian generals and perhaps more interestingly with ordinary soldiers who risked their lives.  One moving piece is from a Commando as he explained how he felt after killing a Taliban fighter.

Also interviewed is the former prime minister Julia Gillard who had to attend 24 funerals for Australian personnel who lost their lives in Afghanistan.  She explained she constantly wondered whether this cost was worth the huge cost that the military paid for by risking their lives.

The fact of whether it was successful is still open to debate, Australian forces were withdrawn after 12 years at the end of 2013 – the casualty list stood at 41 killed and 281 servicemen seriously injured.   Now in Afghanistan there are frequent reports that insurgents are now reclaiming the territory that Australia fought for less than 3 years ago.

It’s always good to see these different perspectives you can see how other country’s media report these same news events just by switching your IP address online.   This video shows how to watch BBC iPlayer Australia where you can pick up the news from the BBC.

Turkey Retaliates Against Kurds

After the brutal car bombing in Ankara, Turkey has retaliated by bombing many of the Kurdish military positions in Northern Iraq.  They have also rounded up and arrested many militants in Turkey in response to the suicide attack even though there has been no direct proof or claim of responsibility from the Kurdish leaders.

The Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu has indicated that were strong indications that  the Sunday’s attack was carried out by the PKK who are also known as the rebels of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party.  Although many international agencies are worried that the Government are merely using the PKK as a scapegoat because they have not claimed responsibility.

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The PM explained that 11 people have been detained who were directly related to the suicide attack which killed 37 people who were nearby the two bus stops targeted.  The police are running DNA checks to identify the exact identity of the bomber and the assistant.  There are rumors that the actual suicide bomber was in fact a woman, though this has not been officially confirmed yet. It’s not surprising that there is confusion now, especially with the Turkish Government taking control of most of the media and filtering internet access primarily using DNS.

Turkey is now becoming an increasingly fractured place, with many enemies both within and surrounding it’s borders. There are many enemies across in Syria including the Government, Kurdish rebels who are populating the Syrian and Iraqi borders with Turkey plus of course many ISIS operatives outside and within the country.   The country is also struggling to cope with the huge amount of refugees from the Syrian conflict.

One of the biggest problems is that the peace process between the Turkish government and the PKK broke down last year. The conflict has been continuing for 30 years and it was hoped that the peace talks would have brought a lasting peace to the conflict.  Both sides blame each other for the break down and it looks unlikely that the talks will be resumed in the near future in such a toxic atmosphere.

More than 200 people have already been killed in suicide bombings since last July, all of them were either blamed on ISIS or the Kurdish group.  Although the attackers might change all are a result of the Turkish Government’s ill executed foreign policy particularly with regards to the Syrian conflict.

The Turkish Government see no distinction between the PKK and ISIS and have been seeking assistance from countries like the US to fight them.  However the Kurdish militia who many believe have some affiliations with the PKK have been strong allies to many in the fight against the common enemy ISIS.

In many ways the bombings have not changed the Turkish Government’s tactics, they already had plans for operations against the Kurdish militants.  they have vowed to wipe out the PKK until the group is completely wiped out.

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