Australia tells Europe: Join ISIS strikes & you’ll solve your migrant problems

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop © Olivia Harris
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has called for more European countries to join airstrikes against Islamic State, claiming that bombing will relieve the refugee crisis. Australia has not agreed to an US request to expand its own operations against jihadists into Syria, however.

Bishop said that 40 percent of refugees trying to enter Europe are coming from Syria, suggesting that additional strikes would help reduce that number.

“There's more countries can do in terms of supporting the airstrikes which are proving effective in stopping Daesh (Islamic State) from claiming territory off sovereign governments,” Bishop said.

“The crisis that is unfolding in Europe will focus their attention. This humanitarian crisis is unprecedented,” she added, referring to the number of asylum seekers from the Middle East. “It will focus their attention on trying to resolve the situation at its source and that will include a military and political solution in both Syria and Iraq.”


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Meanwhile, Australia is still mulling an American request to expand the country’s military operations against Islamic State (previously ISIS/ISIL) from Iraq into Syria.

Countries involved in the US-led airstrikes against the ISIS jihadists include Australia, Denmark, Canada, France, Jordan, Netherlands, the UK, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Australia maintains that strikes are an effective way to fight ISIS. The group has lost more than 7,000 fighters and leaders over the past year, which “reduced the organization’s overall effectiveness,” the head of Australia’s Defense Force said earlier in August. However, critics have been speaking out against this approach, pointing to the fact that ISIS recruitment is still on the rise as sympathizers flock to join the terror group.

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A total of 20,000 foreign fighters from around the world were in Syria and Iraq as of February, including 3,400 estimated to have come from Western nations, US intelligence officials say.

In March, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said this figure could rise, with as many as 10,000 Europeans joining ISIS by the end of 2015. “There are 3,000 Europeans in Iraq and Syria today. When you do a projection for the months to come, there could be 5,000 before summer and 10,000 before the end of the year,” Valls said.

Aside from ISIS’s success in recruitment, many anti-war activists have doubts that bombing ISIS positions could help to resolve the problem of refugees in the EU.

The UK-based Stop the War Coalition said in August that the UK government’s military campaign against Islamic State is “going nowhere.”

“Hundreds of civilians are being killed. This is only going to increase the anger felt by locals toward Britain and other coalition countries,” Stop the War Coalition’s national officer, Chris Nineham, told the Morning Star newspaper.

“What we know is that if America didn’t invade Iraq in 2003 probably we wouldn’t have ISIS or al-Qaeda in Iraq or anywhere in the Middle East now,” Khaled El Shami, political editor of al-Quds newspaper, told RT’s In The Now. “Airstrikes are not going to solve the problem. A guerilla war can never be won by airstrikes. Yes, ISIS was contained in Syria and Iraq but it is expanding actually in Libya at the moment, and I don’t believe the US is doing enough to beat ISIS or to achieve a clear victory there.”


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Civilian deaths from the airstrikes have been rising. Airwars, a non-profit organization that tracks the international airstrikes against ISIS, said at least 459 civilians were killed by the US-led coalition’s bombing of supposed ISIS positions. To date, the coalition has launched more than 5,800 airstrikes in both Iraq and Syria.