None of us in our lifetime have seen such atrocious public assassinations as those carried out by IS.
It is the latest stage of the tragedy in Syria, with Islamic State’s publicized killings carried out to terrify the rest of the world.
Each day brings new heartbreaking stories as people risk everything to rescue their families from this war torn hell. With three million refugees and 200,000 dead, ending the four-year civil war between Sunni and Shiites in Syria has taken on an increasing urgency as Islamic State gains more and more territory, assets and recruits, increasingly carrying out large scale terror attacks across the planet. The Ottawa parliament, the Lindt Cafe, Charlie Hebdo and now the atrocities in the centre of Paris.
Across the western world and south east Asia, there is now a new urgency to find a solution in Syria and to create a global alliance countering Islamist violence and preventing it from being brought home.
Islamic Sate has made it clear, this is ‘payback time’ against every western government that has occupied Muslim land. These are expressions of rage against history, past and present, that lurk within modern Islam and is animating militant fundamentalist Islam across the planet. This is particularly true of the Middle East.
40 years of American wars
At the end of the First World War, when Germany and the Ottoman Empire were defeated, the Middle East was divided between the empires of England and France, which spread across the planet. Syria was mandated to France and it wasn’t until the end of the Second World War that nationalist governments challenged the colonial set-ups and started to rebuild a new sense of identity.
In Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Iran, this meant military strongmen grabbing power. This coincided with vast amounts of oil being discovered and into this new equation came the US, with the Middle East becoming America’s new sphere of foreign policy interest.
It is the last 40 years of American wars across the planet that have produced the newly radicalized generation of young Muslims. One in five persons on this planet firmly believes in the prophet Mohammad and the Quaran granted permission to all persecuted Muslims the right to defend themselves.
Making matters worse
Wherever US, English, French or Australian forces are in a foreign country, they will be seen as an occupying force by part of the population and violent opposition to them will grow and their countries will become targets.
Grappling with this threat is now a key part of all our futures.
Conservative governments want to wipe out Islamic State, to eradicate them, but we know from history that this doesn’t work.
Tony Abbott took us deeper into the Middle Eastern War by sanctioning Australian bombing in Syria, even disregarding national boundaries. He was a fighter and knew no other way and would have put ground forces into Syria, just like the US military wishes to do.
This would create another Middle Eastern War just like Iraq but far worse.
Obama, who so many criticize, has refused to let the US military take this next step.
It was Blair who took Britain into the Iraq war with George Bush, to protect US and UK interests in the Middle East. The Iraq war is now regarded as an enormous mistake.
Islamic State have proclaimed the new caliphate to be ruled by sharia law. It was Mohammed who created the first caliphate and his succession was bitterly contested, dividing Muslims into Sunnis and Shiites. Shiites believed Ali, Mohammed’s son-in-law should have been his successor. Ali was assassinated, as were his sons Hasan and Hussein, creating the divisions within modern Islam.
Each Middle Eastern country now has its Sunni and Shiite populations. But there are many people throughout the Middle East who do not want to be ruled by sharia law.
The Middle East has many problems and it must be left to sort them out, country by country. This will have to include rewriting sharia law so that women’s rights are written into a modern secular constitution. We have meddled for too long and so often got it wrong. We must demand that out new PM brings our army, navy and air force home. Malcolm Turnbull is an intelligent man. He knows we should not be there.
Richard Mordaunt is one of Australia’s most experienced documentary filmmakers. One of his first films was shot in Syria in 1961. In 2010 he returned to the country and made The Secret History of the Assassins, just months before the current uprising began.