Australia to bomb ISIS in Syria: Why now?

Two Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 Hornets and three US Oregon Air National Guard F-15C Eagle fighter jets © Daniel Munoz
Tony Abbott and his front bench in the Australian government are trying to give an impression that to solve the refugee crisis they need to expand operations against ISIS in Syria, Dr. Binoy Kampmark from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology told RT.

Australia has confirmed it will extend its campaign of anti-ISIL air strikes from Iraq into Syria. The authorities say the bombing won't target the Assad regime.

RT: Why do you think Australia's decided to launch air strikes in Syria now?

Dr. Binoy Kampmark: What has been happening for some time is that the Australian defense forces have been considering the options of expanding operations against ISIL into Syria. Essentially Syria is of course where the main root of a lot of these problems is - that is one of the strategic considerations. But the second consideration is the publicity that Mr. [Tony] Abbott hopes to garner; this because there is the sense that a lot of the refugee problems and those arising come from the source. So what he is doing along with his front benchers in government is trying to give the impression that to solve the problem they need to expand the operations against targets in Syria. And note that he did say that the emphasis is ISIL and ISIL forces in Syria, as opposed to the Assad regime. 

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott. © Edgar Su

RT: Why do you think Australia is getting involved now? Is it because airstrikes, the campaign against ISIL hasn’t been effective enough, and the West needs its help in bombing Syria?

Dr. BK: There have been meetings between Australian defense officials and those in Washington about the ineffectiveness, about a lot of the bombing campaigns that have been taking place. The reality of it is – that it has not been working that well, and that it remains rather haphazard in its effects. The reality of it is that Syria is to be involved into the planners’ horizons somehow. Australia has been one of the foremost trumpeters of the idea that an expanded campaign is necessary. And interesting enough - there has been less opposition in government to this than there has been for example in the UK and in other countries, which see an escalation of the conflict by expanding such airstrikes.

RT: Could Australia find itself getting dragged in further?

Dr. BK: Yes, it is considerably so. The problem is that we’re seeing various manifestations of history constantly cropping up in the Middle East and the possibility of mission creep, call it a quagmire, call it whatever they want. But there is a very realistic possibility that the Australian forces and deployments could find themselves tied along to Washington for an indefinite period of time constantly redeployed whenever the next Islamic threat comes out. So that is a considerable problem, the way I see it.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.