A price paid in blood: Australia secretly deploys to another Middle East war

Oct 31, 2023
Royal Australian Air Force Boeing C-17A Globemaster III cargo aircraft landing at Avalon Airport. Image:iStock

Will Australia involve itself in another war in the Middle East? One that promises to be far more destructive and damaging to Australia than our previous misadventures.

It is really rather difficult to comprehend the epic chasm between the real challenge of addressing the many pressing domestic concerns facing Australia and the grave and immediate risk that our Government has placed us in. A grave and immediate risk which the Albanese Government has unnecessarily taken, either through gross ignorance or more likely because of our alliance with the United States. A decision that entails enormous risks; yet has been taken for unclear purposes without any debate or media attention and for which the entire nation appears to be blissfully ignorant but also entirely unprepared.

Australia could once again, find itself at war in the Middle East in coming days or weeks. A regional war that could see the primarily Islamic nations of the region pitted against Israel and its allies. A regional war that could see the United States and its allies in direct conflict with Russia. A regional war that could see much of the oil trade through the Middle East cease. A regional war that could see NATO’s largest Army (Turkiye) on the opposite side to other NATO countries. A regional war with the potential to become a global war.
Into this incredibly unstable situation resulting from Israel’s 16 year blockade and occupation of Gaza and Hamas’ subsequent deadly terrorist attacks on Israel, the Australian Government has made the decision to deploy a ‘significant’ but unspecified number of Australian troops and three RAAF aircraft to an unspecified location in the Middle East, ostensibly for the purposes of the evacuation of Australian citizens. As is so often the case in the Orwellian world we live in, it appears that a humanitarian veneer may have been applied to mask the underlying reason for this decision.

Outside of the immediate fighting in and around Gaza, there is a huge build up of military force in the Middle East/West Asia. The United States and NATO has more than 70 warships in the Mediterranean, including four aircraft carriers from the United States. Ground based fighter aircraft and air defence systems have been deployed with further troops issued ‘prepare to deploy orders.’ It is unclear what the real purpose of this force is.

After a series of rocket attacks against US troops occupying parts of Syria (which in itself is a clear contravention of international law, according to the Syrian Government the occupation has resulted in over US$100 billion lost revenue from the oil, wheat and other commodities which have effectively been looted) President Biden ordered air strikes (another violation of international law) against allegedly ‘Iranian backed’ targets in Syrian territory, strikes which have nothing to do with Israel but are a warning to Iran.

Russian troops are also based in Syria, at the request of the Syrian Government. There has been fighting between Hezbollah (which may have as many as 130,000 rockets/missiles as well as a much greater military capability than Hamas) and Israel.

Whilst the world watches in horror as Gaza is pummelled by Israeli firepower resulting in huge numbers of mostly civilian casualties, there is the very real possibility that either through design, miscalculation, opportunism, or decision making based on emotion rather than logic, the current tinder box in the Middle East/West Asia could well be set alight with the potential for devastating human and economic destruction.

This is the environment into which the Australian Government has deployed Australian Defence Force (ADF) troops.

Given Australia’s war record in the region (Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria) and embarrassingly subordinate relationship with the United States, it is deeply concerning that the Government has taken the ‘unusual’ step of withholding information on the deployment location and number of troops. At a time when maximum transparency should be the order of the day to prevent misunderstandings, it would not be surprising if other countries read into this announcement that there is more to Australia’s deployment than simply supporting the evacuation of Australian citizens from the region. It would be reasonable to assume based on the vagueness of the announcement that in addition to the troops required to maintain and operate the RAAF aircraft, that a Headquarters and special forces or other ground forces may be deployed in preparation for greater Australian involvement in a potential regional war.

It is time for our elected representatives, the media and the public to start asking hard questions of the Government as to what Australia is potentially getting itself involved in.

Here is a short list:

  • Where are these forces deployed? Could they not be deployed to lower risk areas such as southern Europe?
  • What forces elements are being deployed to the Middle East? Are there any forces over and above that required to conduct evacuation operations? If so, why? What is their purpose?
  • Where are these forces deployed? Could they not be deployed to lower risk areas such as southern Europe?
  • Is the withholding of information on ADF deployments a new norm to condition Australians to be kept in the dark in the future?
  • What is the command-and-control relationship between Australia’s deployed forces and those of other countries, particularly the US, NATO and Israel? Are the Australian forces operating independently, or have they been subsumed into an allied command and control structure?
  • If the conflict becomes regional, how will Australia respond? Will Australia send further forces? Or will we withdraw? Who will we be fighting against? What is the strategy? What are the objectives? What are the risks?
  • What happens if ADF personnel become casualties as a result of this deployment? Will that be used as an excuse to increase Australia’s involvement?
  • Why are Australia’s diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions and end the conflict so, to put it bluntly, pathetic and hypocritical? The claim from the Foreign Minister that it is difficult to ‘judge from afarIsrael’s actions in Gaza is not credible in light of the evidence nor in the ready judgement she casts on Russia in Ukraine. Australia’s abstaining on the vote at the UN General Assembly on a resolution for an immediate truce highlights once again that our alliances are more important than the principles enshrined in the UN Charter.
  • How does the rest of the world, outside of the collective West, view Australia? How does our region view Australia? What impact would Australian involvement in another Middle Eastern war have on our relationships in the region?
  • What role does US domestic politics play in this unfolding crisis? With US elections next year, the catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the colossal failure of the Ukrainian counter-offensive (and Ukraine all but disappearing from the news cycle), the Biden administration cannot afford another defeat or disaster, yet the present crisis may present an opportunity to target Iran and Syria (again), a long time ambition of the neoconservatives whose original plan was to take out Seven countries in five years.’  
  • Why do we focus on proximate issues rather than root causes, whether that be Hamas’ attacks on Israel rather than the failure to implement a two-state solution, or the Russian invasion of Ukraine rather than NATO expansion? After all it is the root causes that need to be addressed if we actually want to solve conflicts.
  • Is Australia prepared for oil prices to soar, or even worse an inability to import sufficient oil if a regional war sees the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, or the OPEC nations implement embargoes against countries perceived to be anti-Muslim via their support to Israel? The economic pain from any such disruption could make the ‘cost of living’ crisis facing Australia exponentially worse.

And finally, when will the Parliament get a say as to whether Australia involves itself in another overseas armed conflict?

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