MAPW & PHAA statement on the worsening security situation in Iraq

 18th June 2014

by,   Dr Jenny Grounds, President, MAPW & Mr Michael Moore, CEO Public Health Association Australia

The current situation in Iraq is critical. Already at least half a million people have fled their homes in the current push by ISIS to take over the major cities of Iraq’s North. We can anticipate worsening of the humanitarian crisis in the region, including spread of disease, mental health issues and physical trauma on a scale which will totally overwhelm UN and other aid organisations.

The destabilization in Iraq which is rapidly unfolding should not come as a surprise. Even before 2003, there were warnings of just such an eventuality as a result of the illegal invasion in that year by the British-U.S.-Australia coalition, an invasion that was opposed by millions of people in those countries. The U.S. imposed a top-down democratic process, and installed Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who has proved to be an ineffective leader.

Since that time, there have been calls for an inquiry in Australia into the decision-making process that led to Australia’s involvement in that catastrophic war.

Many groups and individuals, including former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, have also expressed great concern about our increasing fusion with the United States military including and specifically the Asia Pacific Pivot

Now Prime Minister Abbott is repeating the mistake made by Prime Minister Howard in 2003 by promising our forces to support the United States in whatever action they decide to take in response to the Iraq crisis. Our government clearly has not learned from Australia’s past mistakes.

Many key questions remain unanswered, such as: How can “the enemy” be attacked without intensifying the risks to civilians? How would further military action help bring peace and stability to Iraq and the region, when it has thus far merely intensified hatreds? What form would Australian involvement take and how would “success” be defined? What would be the likely humanitarian impact and what plans does Australia have to alleviate the suffering? What impact would Australian involvement have on our own security? What plan does Australia have for reconstruction in Iraq? Would military action be legal?

MAPW calls on the Australian government to:
• provide maximal humanitarian aid to support the increasing numbers of refugees who are seeking to escape the violence
• Refrain from committing Australian forces to further military action against Iraq without the most rigorous examination and debate in parliament, and without the approval of parliament
• encourage and allow the United Nations to perform its proper role in this crisis,
• initiate a Royal Commission into the processes that led to and our involvement in the 2003 Iraq invasion, and
• support the passage of a new War Powers Bill to ensure proper parliamentary debate and approval before any current or future decision to send the Australian Defence Forces to war.


For comment and further information contact:
Phyllis Campbell-McRae, Executive Officer
tel: 03 9023 1958 mb: 0431 475 465
The Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia) works for the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction and the prevention of armed conflict. We promote peace through research, advocacy, peace education and partnerships. Please use our many resources on nuclear weapons, power and waste, peace and conflicts.
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