Australian Defense Minister Brendan Nelson on Thursday reiterated the need for continued military involvement in Iraq.
This came after insurgents blew up two minarets of a most revered Shiite shrine in Samarra City, some 120 km north of Baghdad, on Wednesday morning.
Nelson told a Committee for Economic Development of Australia conference here that the bombing had been planned and executed by al-Qaida, an international terrorist network.
"Al-Qaida is not a force which is confined to Iraq, it is essentially, or it's seeking to be, a global movement," Nelson said.
"We need to ask ourselves is Iraq, is our region, is our global security, actually going to be improved by essentially handing victory to these people? I don't believe it is," he said.
He said he expects circumstances in the Middle East will demand a continued coalition presence in Iraq for at least "the immediate future."
"If we leave essentially before the Iraqis are in some modicum of a position to provide for their own security, there is likely to be quite a significant humanitarian disaster in the country beyond sectarian and al-Qaida inspired violence we're seeing at the moment," he said.
If the coalition did withdraw, terrorists would take their attacks into secular states in the region, followed by Israel, he said.
Australia, a staunch ally of the United States, now maintains about 1,450 troops in and around Iraq.