Last month I suggested that Australian SAS forces were already in Iraq. I suggested this based on the assertion by an American neoconservative writers indiscreet wording in an article that said, “Western commandos such as Seal Team Six, Delta Force and the British and Australian SAS should also expand operations to carry out the kind of intelligence-driven leadership targeting that was an important part of the 2007-2008 surge”. The use of the word ‘expand’ and the tone of the narrative hinted that Australian SAS, together with other Special Forces, were already deployed to the region.
Today, Mark Kenny, the Sydney Morning Herald’s chief political editor writes: “While a contingent of SAS commandos departed for the Middle East on Monday, Fairfax Media understands several SAS commandos have been in the region on standby for weeks.” What ‘standby’ means is anybody’s guess but I can’t imagine for one moment that they’ve been idle but, regardless of whatever they have been up to, their presence earlier on and long before any formal announcements made by Abbott regarding Australia’s involvement in the region indicates that Abbott had committed Australia to enjoin the US long before there was any debate on the matter.
Kenny also goes on to write: “Mr Abbott said the fact that the legitimate government of Iraq had invited Australia to assist in defeating an insurgent force, made Australia's participation in the air and ground war legal”. While Abbott concedes there are legal problems associated with operating with allies inside Syria, he doesn’t rule entirely rule out the possibility saying, “I’m not ruling some action is Syria but it is not part of the government current intentions because, as I’ve said quite frequently over the past few days, the legalities of operations in Syria are quite different from the legalities of operations in Iraq”. However, when he was telling Australians and the parliament a few weeks ago that he’d made no decision about Australia becoming involved in Iraq, it’s obvious that he clearly had already decided what Australia’s role would be in Iraq. Why, then should he be believed when he says that going into Syria is not part of the Australian government’s intentions? And can we not question weather or not Australian SAS forces aren’t already in Syria as well as Iraq?