Ed: 41: October/2016
Wilayat Sinai, an organisation identified with Islamic State, has recently suffered a series of serious blows from the Egyptian Army. Most prominent among them was the air strike in early August 2016 that killed dozens of senior commanders, launched as part of a targeted campaign against terrorism in Egypt in general, and in Sinai in particular. The recent decline in the intensity of Wilayat Sinai's attacks against the Egyptian army, alongside a drop in its media activity and propaganda systems, may point to cumulative damage to the organisation and a decline in its strength.
Last month's Melbourne International Film Festival featured Alex Gibney's documentary Zero Days, taking viewers deep into the world of cyber warfare through the story of Stuxnet - the infamous cyber weapon that was unleashed on the centrifuges at Iran's secret nuclear facility in late 2008. Reportedly designed by the US and Israel, Stuxnet appears to constitute the world's first cyber attack to inflict actual physical damage on an industrial system - the inadvertent unveiling of a "new tool in warfare" - though, as the film highlights, it is unlikely to be the last.
Those who argue that any Jewish settlement in the West Bank is illegal have what seems a rather counter-intuitive interpretation - that is, the Occupying Power must not allow, must somehow stop, any of its citizens from residing in the occupied land, even if they want to, even if they own property there, even if, were the territory not occupied, it would be perfectly normal and proper for them to do so. Is this what the parties who drafted it meant, rather than prohibiting forced deportations of unwanted citizens or minorities?
Senator Hanson did identify some real challenges we face in this country, such as the attraction of Australians to the ranks of Daesh (ISIS), issues of integration, employment, misogyny and sustainable urban development.
Yet there was nothing in her speech to indicate her concern was with these issues in a general sense - her focus was on Islam (which she portrayed as monolithic) and Muslims (who seem to be only acceptable, to her, if they completely dissociate from Islam).
During her recent visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority at the beginning of September, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop once again put her wisdom and diplomatic skill on display in navigating the diplomatic minefields of the simmering conflict, while at the same time deftly strengthening Australian-Israel ties.
In August, US President Barack Obama reassured the Pentagon that Islamic State will "inevitably be defeated". US Government officials, generals, and pundits have been debating what could happen when the group is defeated in Iraq and Syria and have been hard at work penning ISIS obituaries...
Two years ago, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq's (ISIS) blitz assault across a swath of land as big as the United Kingdom led to the establishment of the self-proclaimed Caliphate and fragmented both Syria and Iraq. The recent defeats inflicted on Islamic radicals, however, have considerably shrunk the areas under ISIS control in both countries.