Australia and Iran reached an informal information-sharing agreement to combat ISIS. Australia supports the nuclear agreement with Iran and is eager to deport Iranian asylum seekers.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop traveled to Iran last week to discuss cooperation on sharing intelligence to fight the Islamic State (ISIS).
The high-level visit, the first of its kind in over a decade, has created some controversy in Australia. The foreign minister agreed to cover her hair in Iran despite calls by Iranian women’s rights activists not to comply. Furthermore, Iran has agreed to Bishop’s request to send officials to Australia to discuss sending asylum seekers who were not been deemed refugees back to Iran.
Australia and Iran have reached an informal agreement to combat Islamic State (ISIS) by sharing intelligence. Approximately 100 Australian nationals have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State, and some returned to carry out terror attacks in their home country.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also expressed her support for the nuclear agreement between the P5+1 and Iran.
“We have a common purpose with Iran in defeating Daesh [ISIS] and helping the Iraqi government,” Bishop told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “During my discussions with the national leadership here, it was agreed that we could share intelligence, particularly on the foreign terrorist fighters from Australia who are taking part in this conflict in Iraq.”
Despite its physical distance from the Middle East, Australia considers its ISIS members a threat to domestic security. Just this past weekend, five teenagers were arrested for planning a terrorist attack to be carried out at an Anzac Day (important national commemoration day in Australia] event. Just last week, ISIS hacked the website of Hobart International Airport in Tasmania.
Australia is deploying over 300 soldiers to participate in the US-led coalition attacks on ISIS.
“It was an informal arrangement whereby we would share intelligence that would give us information on the Australians who are taking part, and I believe that Iran has information that we would seek and they were very agreeable to share that information with us,” Bishop explained. “They are in Iraq and places we are not. They also have a very sophisticated intelligence network and there’s a lot of information they have been gathering.”
Iran and Australia first began to explore intelligence sharing in 2014. The idea was given new momentum in December after an Iranian refugee, Man Haron Monis, took hostages at a cafe in Sydney. Two of the hostages were killed along with Monis when police stormed the building.
Bishop rejected the suggestion that sharing intelligence with Iran would harm Australia’s relations with the US or Israel, and she supported the framework nuclear agreement. “My sense is that Israel is waiting to see the detail of the final agreement,” she said. She then noted that Iran has a Jewish population of 20,000, saying, “It is a very different perspective that you get here.”
By: Sara Abramowicz, United with Israel