No global push for ground force against ISIS: Turnbull

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaking to Parliament in Canberra yesterday. Although he ruled out the use of Australian troops on the ground in Syria or Iraq, he said his government was planning greater intelligence-sharing with South-ea
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaking to Parliament in Canberra yesterday. Although he ruled out the use of Australian troops on the ground in Syria or Iraq, he said his government was planning greater intelligence-sharing with South-east Asian countries.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

World leaders have no appetite for US-led army against terror group: Aussie PM

SYDNEY • Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said yesterday that there was no global support for a US-led ground force to destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, which he called fundamentally weak with "more Twitter accounts than fighters".

Calls have been made in Canberra for boots on the ground in Syria to combat the threat from ISIS and other militant groups in the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris this month.

But after attending a series of recent global summits, Mr Turnbull said in an address on national security to Parliament that there was no appetite for such a move.

Instead, Mr Turnbull called for greater intelligence-sharing with Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia to prevent a Paris-style terror attack and ordered local law enforcement officials to test their readiness to handle a mass-casualty attack.

"I have to report to the House that the consensus of the leaders I met at the G-20, at Apec and at the East Asia Summit is that there is no support currently for a large US-led Western army to attempt to conquer and hold ISIL-controlled areas," he said, using another acronym for ISIS.

ARCHAIC YET MODERN

We must not be fooled by its hype. Its ideology is archaic but its use of the Internet is very modern. ISIL has many more smartphones than guns, more Twitter accounts than fighters.

AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER MALCOLM TURNBULL

"Current advice to the government is that the unilateral deployment of Australian combat troops on the ground in Iraq or Syria is not feasible or practical."

Australia has been active in Iraq for months, and recently started launching air strikes against ISIS in Syria as part of a 60-nation, US-led coalition against the terrorists.

Mr Turnbull said ISIS was "in a fundamentally weak position" despite territorial gains.

"We must not be fooled by its hype. Its ideology is archaic but its use of the Internet is very modern. ISIL has many more smartphones than guns, more Twitter accounts than fighters," he said.

He did highlight the need to counter violent extremism online, citing Australian support for a new Malaysian programme to undermine extremist messaging.

On plans for greater intelligence-sharing with South-east Asian countries, Mr Turnbull said: "From an Australian perspective, we see a real risk that terrorist groups in the region might be inspired by attacks such as we have seen in Ankara, Beirut, Bamako and Paris, and we are very mindful of the fact that hundreds of thousands of Australians visit South-east Asia every year.

"We are examining closely the implications of the Paris attacks for our own domestic arrangements. I am receiving updated intelligence on this every day. We are working more closely than ever with our European partners."

He also said Attorney-General George Brandis would visit Indonesia next month to discuss regional intelligence coordination.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2015, with the headline 'No global push for ground force against ISIS: Turnbull'. Print Edition | Subscribe