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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #100 on: November 26, 2013, 08:12:01 PM »

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/75661/pacquiao-stung-by-assets-freeze-says-big-thieves-treated-better
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #101 on: September 14, 2014, 12:12:04 PM »


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In the Southern Philippines, the Peace Process Stumbles Forward
Analysis
September 14, 2014 | 0811 Print Text Size
In the Philippines, the Peace Process Stumbles Forward
Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels attend a rally in support of the peace agreement with the government in Sultan Kudarat, Philippines, on March 27. (TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
Summary

Peace is not imminent in the predominantly Muslim areas of the southern Philippines, but government efforts to stabilize the archipelagic region took a major step forward this week. On Sept. 10, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III submitted to Congress a draft law creating a new autonomous government for the southern region, to be known as Bangsamoro, ending a tense three-month period of deliberations with rebel negotiators over the law's finer details. The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law is the product of nearly two decades of violence-marred negotiations between the government and Moro rebels. It aims to address some of the underlying drivers of the violence by giving the region a greater share of resource and tax revenues, in addition to a largely independent parliament, police force and civil judiciary.

The draft still faces steep legislative and political hurdles, as well as lingering questions about its compliance with the Philippine Constitution. Even if fully implemented, the law wouldn't completely pacify the restive region, which is home to numerous other militant groups, clan-based blood feuds and entrenched criminal networks that will continue to deter the development of the region's vast economic potential. Nonetheless, mounting economic and political incentives, a decline in militant capabilities, and Manila's fundamental geopolitical imperatives will continue to generate momentum for a solution.
Analysis

The peace process in Muslim Mindanao has been lurching forward for decades, despite routine disruptions by rebels seeking to gain leverage in negotiations or derail them altogether, as well as political and judicial complications. By hammering out an agreement on the law's most contentious details with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front -- the strongest group and the one most capable of governing the region -- Manila hopes that the peace process can finally move beyond negotiations, reducing the ability of holdout militants to influence the shape of the deal through violence. The primary obstacles to passage are now procedural: The Aquino administration is urging Congress to pass the law by early 2015, positioning it to be ratified in a referendum in Bangsamoro by the end of the president's term in 2016.

Constitutional Questions and Continuing Complications

A key remaining issue is constitutionality. In 2008, the Supreme Court invalidated a peace deal reached with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that was seen as nearly identical to a cease-fire agreement finalized in March. Rebel negotiators have long contended that charter change would be needed to allot Bangsamoro the level of autonomy agreed upon in cease-fire negotiations. The Aquino administration asserts that the constitution can accommodate the new law, but repeated delays in submitting the bill to Congress suggest a lack of confidence that it will pass Supreme Court inspection. For much of the past three months, the deal appeared on the brink of unraveling while the palace reviewed the draft, at one point revising or removing several key passages, forcing negotiators to reopen talks on contentious points that had already been settled. Philippine constitutional scholars are divided on the issue.

Should the Supreme Court invalidate the law, either the rebels would be expected to accept a diluted deal, or the Aquino administration would need to push for a charter change -- a daunting task that would face opposition from Philippine nationalists and tie the fate of the law to other political issues amid a campaign season. Similarly, Congress could demand changes that would complicate the Bangsamoro referendum. Any of these scenarios would increase the risk of violence, albeit not to the degree that followed similar setbacks in the past.

Even if the law clears these hurdles, autonomy alone will not stabilize Bangsamoro. Any new government would struggle to assert control over the fractious region, home to myriad ethno-linguistic groups and a geographic landscape ill-suited for unity. Militant groups sidelined during the recent peace negotiations are unlikely to recognize the legitimacy of a regional government led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, particularly in the Sulu archipelago, the stronghold of the rival Moro National Liberation Front (the Moro Islamic Liberation Front's parent organization), which rejects the new law on grounds that it will abrogate its own agreement for semi-autonomy reached with the government in 1996. Meanwhile, more radical groups -- namely Abu Sayyaf and the communist New People's Army -- will continue attacks that will complicate the implementation of the law, irrespective of whatever progress is made between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Ultimately, major investment and development will be needed to build a sustainable peace, as the regional economy has floundered amid the insecurity. Muslim Mindanao has a per capita gross domestic product of around 40 percent of the nationwide average, with unemployment reaching 48 percent in 2012. The region regularly suffers from blackouts that make manufacturing unattractive, while the prevalence of kidnappings, bombings and extortion scares off foreign investors. In the late 1990s, for example, the Philippine National Oil Co. and Malaysia's Petronas withdrew from an oil and natural gas play in territory controlled by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, reportedly due to threats from the rebel group and other local warlords. On Aug. 24, fighters with the New People's Army -- which routinely targets foreign companies in the region -- raided two Del Monte banana plantations. Any potential investor will also need to navigate unresolved clan conflicts and historical territorial disputes, pervasive corruption and entrenched criminal networks led by local warlords and political oligarchs.
Forces Compelling the Peace Process

Nonetheless, the peace process has repeatedly proved resilient to judicial and militant complications and will continue to do so. Violence spiked after the 2008 ruling, but within four years the two sides had inked another framework deal that laid the groundwork for the new Bangsamoro law. This, too, sparked violence, with the Moro National Liberation Front battling the military in Zamboanga City for three weeks in 2013, displacing more than 100,000 people. Simultaneously, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (which broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2008 in opposition to the cease-fire negotiations) and Abu Sayyaf launched attacks elsewhere. Those also failed to derail the talks, as have regular attacks since.
The Philippines' Geographic Challenge

The resilience of the stabilization process stems from several factors: First, there are indeed powerful economic incentives for peace. The region is home to as much as 70 percent of the country's untapped mineral sources -- upwards of $300 billion in gold, copper, nickel, manganese, lead, zinc and iron ore deposits. It also has oil and natural gas potential and is attractive for tourism. Development of these resources would fund the massive infrastructure investment needed for the Philippines to meet its long-term economic imperatives and take advantage of emerging regional opportunities. The resource wealth may intensify local rivalries, but it can also be used to win cooperation from local warlords and political oligarchs while isolating holdouts from patronage flows. To generate public backing for the law, Philippine leaders have been consistently touting the region's economic promise, including the fact that foreign direct investment has surged over the past year in Mindanao in anticipation of peace.

Meanwhile, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which dropped its demand for full independence in 2003 and has since evolved into a primarily political organization, cannot afford to miss even a fleeting chance to capitalize on its efforts. Its moderate leadership is aging, and it lacks the militant capabilities it once had. If pressed for further concessions, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front could seek leverage by aligning with its more radical rivals, particularly the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. However, the peace process has already sparked some development in areas controlled by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, weakening public support for any potential return to violence. At this point, backing out of the deal would threaten an opportunity for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to deliver autonomy to the region while entrenching itself in power. This is why Aquino's alterations to the draft law did not sink it, despite generating a strong rhetorical backlash from rebel negotiators.

Divisions among the other various militant groups in Muslim Mindanao will make for a weaker rebel challenge overall, albeit one within which radical wings and shifting alignments pose continued challenges for Manila. Though the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters have become increasingly active since the beginning of the year, the group only controls a few hundred fighters. Abu Sayyaf has essentially evolved into little more than a kidnapping and extortion syndicate. For its part, the Moro National Liberation Front appears increasingly divided, isolated and irrelevant. While some Moro National Liberation Front leaders still refuse to negotiate, others (particularly those located in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front-dominated central Mindanao) have been making conciliatory gestures. Indeed, were it to heed calls from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Manila and the international community to join the new Bangsamoro government, the Moro National Liberation Front would form a strong minority bloc with, by certain metrics, greater control over regional resources than it had under the 1996 deal.

For the Philippine government, progress in Mindanao has become increasingly imperative as the country gradually shifts its defense posture. The new law will free the military to focus its divide-and-conquer tactics on the holdout groups, while the opportunity to control local rebel-dominated industries will likely keep military leaders onboard. The government's ultimate imperatives are geopolitical: It is facing diplomatic pressure from regional allies such as Malaysia (which has its own security concerns about Philippine rebels) and the United States (which provides considerable military support) to implement a settlement. More important, with tensions in the South China Sea growing, the Philippines must find a way to shift its focus from internal stabilization to its external vulnerabilities and maritime position. Unchecked insurgencies would make Muslim Mindanao ripe for foreign exploitation and a perpetual drain on military resources while undermining the economic growth needed to fund military modernization and prepare the country for more critical threats.

Read more: In the Southern Philippines, the Peace Process Stumbles Forward | Stratfor
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #102 on: April 07, 2016, 06:58:40 AM »

http://maxoki161.blogspot.com/2016/04/us-special-operations-forces-in.html?spref=fb
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ccp
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« Reply #103 on: October 16, 2016, 12:56:55 PM »

Of course Obama's name is not mentioned:

http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2016/10/15/blowback-for-american-sins-philippines/VNAmdveJWntU7f8FYnGvPL/story.html
« Last Edit: October 17, 2016, 08:22:39 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #104 on: November 21, 2016, 09:30:55 AM »

https://ca.news.yahoo.com/meeting-putin-philippines-duterte-rails-western-hypocrisy-070056134.html
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #105 on: December 07, 2016, 12:15:11 PM »

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/12/07/world/asia/rodrigo-duterte-philippines-drugs-killings.html?emc=edit_ta_20161207&nlid=49641193&ref=cta
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #106 on: March 27, 2017, 08:16:39 AM »

https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/asia/100000004819836/duterte-philippines-when-a-president-says-ill-kill-you.html?emc=edit_ta_20170326&nl=top-stories&nlid=49641193&ref=cta
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ccp
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« Reply #107 on: March 27, 2017, 08:29:53 AM »

Still waiting to see what  the affect on drug dealing is in the country from this.  The last time I checked no one knows.

here is a locked up abroad episode from 2008 involving the Philippines

https://www.snap.com/en-US/news/

Doubt there are any episodes since Duarte has been in power from 2013.


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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #108 on: May 25, 2017, 02:03:08 PM »

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2017/05/24/duterte-says-spare-no-one-islamic-state-beheads-police-chief-stages-mass-prison-break/

It is Breitbart so caveat lector.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #109 on: May 26, 2017, 08:28:22 PM »

http://dailycaller.com/2017/05/25/fearless-70-year-old-man-fights-isis-linked-terrorist-in-hand-to-hand-combat/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #110 on: May 31, 2017, 11:50:56 AM »

http://pamelageller.com/2017/05/isis-caliphate-philippines.html/

http://cnnphilippines.com/
« Last Edit: May 31, 2017, 03:17:10 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
G M
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« Reply #111 on: June 02, 2017, 11:58:08 AM »

http://www.smh.com.au/world/gunfire-explosions-heard-outside-resorts-world-in-manila-philippines-20170601-gwioey.html

Robbery. Sure. rolleyes



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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #112 on: June 17, 2017, 01:59:23 PM »

http://www.mintpressnews.com/a-u-s-led-military-coup-could-be-brewing-in-the-philippines-to-oust-duterte/228838/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #113 on: June 19, 2017, 08:47:06 PM »

http://www.interaksyon.com/clean-your-weapons-iligan-mayor-tells-gun-owners-as-military-bares-maute-plan-for-city/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #114 on: June 21, 2017, 01:06:04 AM »



http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/06/21/pro-isis-rebels-storm-school-in-philippines-students-held-hostage.html
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #115 on: June 26, 2017, 07:18:43 AM »

http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-philippines-marawi-victims-20170623-story.html
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ccp
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« Reply #116 on: June 26, 2017, 08:01:39 AM »

I always thought of Philippines as a Christian nation .

It is :

from Wikipedia - the breakdown of population by religion:

92% Christianity
5.57% Islam
2.43% others
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DougMacG
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« Reply #117 on: June 26, 2017, 09:59:53 AM »

I always thought of Philippines as a Christian nation .
92% Christianity
5.57% Islam
2.43% others

In a region where others are majority Muslim:

Indonesia also has a larger Muslim population than any other country in the world, with approximately 202.9 million identifying themselves as Muslim (87.2% of Indonesia's total population in 2011).

Malaysia: 61.3 percent of the population practices Islam.

Islam is Brunei's official religion, 67 percent of the population is Muslim.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #118 on: June 26, 2017, 12:26:39 PM »

Muslims are concentrated in certain islands in the south.  The Southern Philippines have a long history of Muslim resistance to Spanish resistance, American colonization, and Manila dominance.  Sometimes this gets up in the central Philippines e.g. Negros.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #119 on: June 30, 2017, 01:53:20 AM »

https://www.facebook.com/AFPwillRISE/videos/849184615247727/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #120 on: July 13, 2017, 11:47:10 PM »

Stratfor Worldview

 
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assessments

Jul 5, 2017 | 09:00 GMT
Visualizing the Fierce Battle for Marawi City
Satellite images show damage inflicted to Marawi City in the Philippines as government forces battle Islamic State-affiliated militants.
(Stratfor)
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Since late May, Marawi City in the Philippines has been the backdrop for fighting between the Islamic State-affiliated Maute group and Philippine government troops. On May 23, the militants began their offensive on the city, following a failed attempt by government forces to arrest militant commander Isnilon Hapilon. Hapilon, also known as Abu Abdullah al-Filipini, is the emir of Islamic State forces in the Philippines and a former leader of the Muslim separatist group Abu Sayyaf.

Since the offensive began, Marawi City has turned into an intense urban battleground. Though Philippine forces are advancing against the Islamic State fighters, militants still hold several hundred buildings throughout the city, and every position must be cleared. Philippine soldiers are having to adjust on the fly to the realities of urban combat, fighting from one house to the next and capturing between 40 to 100 houses per day, according to Philippine military sources.

Securing Marawi City comes at a cost, however, and so far 82 soldiers and police officers have died in the six weeks of fighting. Over 40 civilians have also reportedly been killed, though this number will likely rise as more areas are recaptured. The militants have taken hostage approximately 100 to 200 civilians, who they are suspected of using as human shields. Several hundred more civilians are trapped in their homes by the fighting. In addition to the human cost, the battle is taking a massive toll on the infrastructure of the city, as persistent artillery fire and airstrikes by government forces have reduced major sections of Marawi City to rubble.

At this point, there are believed to be about 100 militants still holding out in the city, with the military claiming to have killed close to 300 members of the opposition during its advance. The building-by-building nature of the advance means progress is slow, exacerbated by booby traps left behind by withdrawing militants. Government forces have been combing liberated areas for unexploded ordnance, which they will likely continue to do even after the militants are defeated. Several high-value targets are also believed to still be located in Marawi — including Hapilon — and Philippine forces will seek to isolate, capture or kill them if they have the opportunity.

Despite Philippine forces being located on all sides of the city on land, there is a risk that retreating militants could escape by water. Local boatmen have been found running the blockade around Marawi City, ferrying ammunition and supplies into the militant-held areas of the city and evacuating injured fighters. As government troops progress, militant leadership and foreign fighters could use these boatmen to escape.

Prior to the fighting in Marawi City, bombing and kidnapping campaigns conducted by the Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups resulted in very limited damage. By occupying Marawi City and engaging the Philippine armed forces, the militants have provoked a government response that has damaged the city far more than they could have managed on their own. And the destruction caused by the military further benefits the militant groups by providing a useful narrative for the Islamic State to exploit as it works to build support in the Philippines.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #121 on: July 24, 2017, 08:16:41 AM »

The Fight in Marawi City and the Struggles to Come
Philippine troops head to Marawi City to fight Islamist militants. Government success against a long history of insurgencies on the southern island of Mindanao comes piecemeal, and reversals always seem to follow.
(TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
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The recent grinding, street-to-street fighting in Marawi City against Islamic State-affiliated militants has focused the world's attention on the restive and remote Philippine region of Mindanao. In time, the clashes will subside. But, as with the Iraqi city of Mosul, this monthslong episode is only one part of a longer struggle — one with roots centuries deep and with dim prospects for a lasting resolution. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, a political outsider with a strongman image to maintain, is preparing measures intended to bring stability to the region — and forward his own goals in the process.

A Shifting Mix of Militants

Insurgency has a long history in Mindanao. The island group is far removed from the capital of Manila and has strong geographic and historical ties to contiguous regions of Indonesia and Malaysia. And whereas the Philippines as a whole is more than 90 percent Christian, about 20 percent of the residents of Mindanao are Muslim, with many concentrated in the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao, as well as in the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. The ethnic Moro Muslims of Mindanao have resisted the state on and off since the colonial period, with modern insurgencies tracing their roots back to the 1960s. Duterte, who was mayor of Davao City in southeast Mindanao for 22 years, understands the delicate balance among militant groups in the region.

This balance has made implementing an enduring peace challenging to say the least. The militants who took control of Marawi City on May 23 call themselves the Maute group and represent just one tiny corner of a sprawling militant landscape defined by overlapping factions, deep divisions and strong disagreements over how to relate to the central government in Manila. Lucrative criminal smuggling and kidnapping activities in the poorly policed waters nearby only make this landscape more complex.
For centuries, an ever-shifting set of rebel groups has battled central authority on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.

The strongest Moro militant group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), struck a peace deal with the government in 2014 after 17 years of negotiations, securing promises of concessions that separatist groups worldwide would envy: A region to be called Bangsamoro in southwest Mindanao presided over by MILF, replete with a lawmaking body, judicial system and police force, as well as a share of taxes and mineral wealth. This area would expand upon and replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao established in an earlier peace deal with another group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which has fragmented into numerous factions and become largely isolated and irrelevant. But the Philippine Congress has yet to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which would cement the government's promises and set a timetable for their delivery. Tensions in Mindanao and hurdles erected by the Philippine Supreme Court stalled the bill's progress in late 2016 under Duterte's predecessor, President Benigno Aquino III. MILF's leaders are eager for Congress to pass the law, since the longer it is delayed, the more the group's legitimacy and control erodes and the greater the risk of continued fragmentation.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law – the core of a 2014 peace deal between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front – would have created a MILF-led administrative region known as Bangsamoro. The proposal is stalled in the Philippine Congress.

With MILF's deal under mounting pressure and ideological splits forming on whether to make peace with the government at all, the mainstream group's aging leadership has found it hard to contain younger, more radical members. The Maute group is composed of disaffected MILF fighters who formed their own organization under the leadership of Omarkhayam and Abdullah Maute in 2012. Other militant groups, such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and Abu Sayyaf, have also challenged MILF's moderate stance.

In 2015, the Maute group declared its allegiance to the Islamic State. And the Islamic State's rise has only complicated Mindanao's situation by providing a fresh rallying point. Foreign fighters — a number of whom appear to be participating in the Marawi City fight, according to the Philippine military — have buoyed the Maute group. The Islamic State in Syria also managed to make numerous small transfers of money to the Maute fighters in Marawi via Malaysian intermediary Dr. Mahmud bin Ahmad. The slow-motion collapse of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will only exacerbate these problems: The movement is evolving into one that thrives in vacuums of authority and crises of legitimacy — both of which describe Mindanao. If Manila cannot manage to get a handle on the region, it will continue to be a haven for radical groups.

A Plan Laden With Political Challenges

Duterte has signaled he will push forward with measures aimed at brokering a lasting balance in Mindanao. On July 18, the president received a new draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and said he would move to fast-track the legislation through Congress. Though details of the new draft law are scant, MILF's leaders have said that they hope for the transition period to begin in 2019 and culminate in local Bangsamoro elections in 2022.

Passing and implementing the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be difficult, even for a maverick such as Duterte. The president ran on a campaign that emphasized reforming the Philippine Constitution to transition the country from its current unitary political system to a federal model. Duterte says such a change would help to spread wealth across the country and alleviate massive regional development disparities. It also would help to break up political networks in the capital, a boon to political outsiders like Duterte and to large city centers outside the core island of Luzon (such as his home city of Davao). The president has laid out an ambitious plan to bring about this politically fraught change: In December 2016, he issued an executive order creating a constitutional review committee, which he says he will appoint after he has received the Bangsamoro Basic Law draft and made progress in peace deals with communist National Democratic Front of the Philippines insurgents. Though Duterte has identified the law as a template for federalism elsewhere in the country, such a passage will still be a major challenge politically and could face court challenges under the constitution.
Differing levels of development in the Philippines give the nation's numerous subregions varying imperatives.

Though the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law would shore up Duterte's federalist ambitions, it is not likely to truly solve the militant threat in Mindanao. There are simply too many subgroups with too little centralized control and too much incentive to defy moderate Moro leaders. A lasting solution would require a complex balance of political and military measures — and would still be vulnerable. The June inauguration of trilateral maritime patrols by Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines in the waters near Mindanao would be one part of a broader solution. The Marawi City siege, in fact, helped to expedite the patrols, with defense chiefs specifically highlighting a need to block the movement of Islamic State-aligned militants fleeing fighting in the city. Singapore, an observer of the patrols, also recently extended an offer to train Philippine forces in urban combat and to provide drone surveillance assistance — a sign of broader support by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for stability in the southern Philippines.

The MILF (and MNLF) in Marawi have been supportive of the Philippine armed forces; in fact, they have pushed for a larger role in keeping with their support for counterterrorism measures in the past. Leaders from both groups declared their commitment to the peace process shortly after the late May takeover of Marawi City. Throughout the siege, MILF has organized brief cease-fires with the Maute group through intermediaries and maintained a humanitarian corridor for civilians to exit the city. The mainstream group is keen to emphasize its support for the government and signal that it can be trusted with a semi-autonomous region. A potential spoiler, however, would be the emergence of evidence that MILF leaders had foreknowledge of the Maute group's plans in Marawi City — a subject of constantly bubbling rumors and a possibility given the overlap among the region's militant groups.

Looking to China, Needing the United States

The big question going forward is what role China will play in Mindanao and Marawi City. Duterte has made his high-profile effort to rebalance toward China a trademark of his administration, tilting away from the Philippines' longtime ally, the United States. But the fight for Marawi City laid bare the continued value of the U.S. alliance structure. Early in his term, Duterte had called for long-present U.S. special operations forces to leave Mindanao before the military pushed back and he allowed fresh rotations. With the outbreak of fighting in Marawi, U.S. personnel quickly stepped in as advisers in the fight — a fact Duterte was initially tight-lipped about. Since that time, U.S. partner Australia has provided surveillance assistance and Singapore has offered the same.

But Duterte has emphasized a wish for China to play a future role in Mindanao. China is already leveraging its substantial economic heft in the region, with studies underway to expand the port in Davao City as part of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative. But in the immediate fight for Marawi City, China's assistance has been limited. On June 29, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua promised to explore areas of counterterrorism cooperation through training, military exercises and intelligence sharing. He also oversaw the handover of light arms — the first of a two-part, $11.7 million package. With Duterte already talking about a bombastic million-dollar reconstruction package for Marawi City, China will have ample opportunity to leverage its wealth if it chooses.

But the fighting in Marawi City — much less Mindanao — is not yet over. The initial 60-day period of martial law that Duterte declared in late May expired on July 22 and Duterte managed so secure an extension from congress through the end of 2017, citing information about broader militant activities. Though an extension will give Duterte the latitude he wants to clamp down on hard-line militants, it is also a contentious move, given the Philippines' history of martial law under the Marcos dictatorship. It also carries risks on the ground — a failed arrest of militant leader Isnilon Hapilon initiated the militant takeover of Marawi City in May. This has been a pattern, with military activity stirring the hornet's nest of both mainstream militant units and hard-liners, sparking fighting. And so, the struggle to steady Mindanao will continue as it has before — piecemeal and with setbacks.
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« Reply #122 on: October 18, 2017, 10:17:15 PM »

Photos and maps at https://www.wsj.com/articles/inside-islamic-states-other-grisly-war-a-world-away-from-syria-1508337872


Inside Islamic State’s Other Grisly War, a World Away From Syria
Islamists in the Philippines pledged allegiance to ISIS, devastated a city and built a model for jihadists after the fall of Raqqa
Philippine troops during their assault against Islamist militants in Marawi in September.
By Jake Maxwell Watts | Photographs by
Linus Guardian Escandor II for The Wall Street Journal
Oct. 18, 2017 10:44 a.m. ET
11 COMMENTS
Link copied…

MARAWI, Philippines—On the third day of his captivity, during one of the most violent jihadist rebellions outside the Middle East and Africa, Ronnel Samiahan watched Islamist militants make an example of a fellow hostage who had tried to break free.

After dragging the conscious man onto the street and pulling his head up by the hair, the militants began sawing at his neck with a knife. Five minutes later, the executioner thrust the severed head toward the remaining hostages, warning, “If you try to escape, this is what is going to happen to you,” recalled Mr. Samiahan, a Christian local laborer.

Islamist militants took over this city of 200,000 people in late May, modeling themselves on Islamic State, or ISIS. Philippine soldiers, assisted by the U.S. military, struggled to reclaim it.

Inside the Philippines' Bloody War Against Islamist Militants

The Philippine military has struggled to defeat hundreds of well-armed militants who seized the southern city of Marawi in May. Photo: Linus Guardian Escandor II for The Wall Street Journal

Philippine authorities on Monday said two of the militants’ most senior leaders had been killed, including one on Washington’s list of most-wanted terrorists, and that it was a few days from securing the city. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday declared the city liberated.

The militants’ occupation—and the military’s siege—has left Marawi in ruins, with more than 1,000 soldiers, civilians and militants killed and many neighborhoods devastated by airstrikes. A few dozen militants remain in the city, the military said on Tuesday.



The Marawi battle shows how militant groups outside the Middle East and Africa are finding a template in Islamic State, not just as an exporter of terrorism, but also as a holder of territory. ISIS itself is looking for new beachheads having been pushed out of strongholds such as its de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, which U.S.-backed forces said they captured this week.

“They look around the globe,” said Colin Clarke, a counterterrorism researcher at Rand Corp., a policy think tank. “They try to find a place where there is an ongoing insurgency, and they latch themselves onto that cause and exploit those local grievances.”

President Duterte has voiced concern that violence could spread from Marawi to other areas in the southern Philippines. Analysts say revenge or copycat attacks are likely to strike Manila or other Southeast Asian capitals.

In mid-2016, ISIS called on potential new recruits unable to join it in the Middle East to look to the Philippines. ISIS media agencies have promoted the Marawi conflict to their followers.
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A brief history of the Marawi conflict and the Islamist groups that sparked it.
Isnilon Hapilon and his Abu Sayyaf Islamist militant group kidnap tourists, later beheading some.
Hapilon swears allegiance to Islamic State, which later endorses him as "emir" in Southeast Asia.
Fighters from a newly emerging Islamist group in Mindanao, led by Omar and Abdullah Maute, occupy a town, later bomb Davao City.
Maute fighters swear allegiance to Islamic State, raid Marawi jail.
Hapilon and his group begin joining Maute fighters.
Philippine military mobilizes against militants in Marawi, beginning long siege as Maute fighters dig in, using improvised explosives and snipers.
Maute fighters flying Islamic State flags occupy Marawi, burning buildings, taking hostages.
A misaimed airstrike kills 11 Philippine soldiers as troops push militants to city's east.
The U.S. says it is providing special forces assistance to the Philippines.
Military takes back first of three key bridges, later retakes key buildings.
Military retakes remaining bridge. Earlier in the month, Philippine authorities say one Maute brother believed killed.
Philippine authorities say two remaining militant leaders killed; military declares battle nearly over.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declares Marawi liberated.

Sources: Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Government, Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict

“It will be difficult to replicate a similar urban assault like Marawi in the short term,” said Francisco J. Lara, Philippines country manager of peace-building agency International Alert. “But the threat of a similar attack in the future remains real.”

Marawi is on Mindanao island, long known as a haven for extremists, from communist guerrillas to separatist Muslims. The U.S. for years has kept a small special forces contingent on the island.  The militants in Marawi, known as the Maute after the brothers who led them, Omar and Abdullah Maute, received funds from ISIS and modeled many of their tactics on the group, Philippine officials say. Their goal was to create a caliphate, or Islamic kingdom, with fighters from abroad including Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, these officials say. Marawi was once a relatively prosperous trading hub, surrounded by hills and a lake. It is predominantly Muslim, with the minarets and domes of mosques. There is a small Catholic minority.

The siege

The tale of the Marawi battle—told by the Philippine military and witnesses on the ground, including former hostages—shows how ISIS-inspired militants can quickly consume a city far from its base and supply lines in the Middle East.


It began May 23. Soldiers and police moved in on a house after receiving intelligence showing the Maute brothers and another militant leader, Isnilon Hapilon, were hiding there. The military, which inadvertently interrupted a plan to occupy Marawi, found itself laying a siege that would last roughly five months.

Known for kidnapping and beheading foreigners from tourist resorts even before his ISIS affiliation, Mr. Hapilon is on the U.S. State Department’s most-wanted-terrorists list. In 2014, he swore allegiance to ISIS, which two years later endorsed him on its central media channel as its “emir,” or ruler, in Southeast Asia.

The Maute brothers were a lesser-understood threat. They were educated in Egypt and Jordan and from an elite local family, according to the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, a terror-research group in Jakarta. In 2016, they briefly occupied a town about a two-hour drive from Marawi. Their group later attacked a Marawi prison, releasing some of their captured fighters, and bombed a night market in Davao City, President Duterte’s hometown.

Before government troops could get close on May 23, they came under fire from several buildings and retreated. Soon, hundreds of heavily armed fighters who had infiltrated Marawi began flooding the streets, planting the black ISIS flag in public areas and taking hostages, primarily Christians and the Muslims who sought to protect them.

The militants torched a cathedral and a school. Photographs by residents show Maute fighters in dark clothing and hats or balaclavas patrolling streets and mounting ISIS flags on vehicles. Civilians fled to surrounding towns and to government-run refugee camps. President Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao.

A hostage’s tale

Mr. Samiahan, who witnessed the hostage’s execution, had lived in Marawi for five years. His family of seven slipped out the back of their house after darkness and hid in the tall grass of an adjacent field as Maute fighters, yelling in triumph, set fire to the next-door Dansalan College, a Christian school.

The family spent the night huddled in the rain as Maute fighters shined flashlights across the grassy field. They were so close, Mr. Samiahan’s wife, Yolanda, said, “you could almost shake their hands.”

Ronnel Samiahan, 34, here with his son Greg, witnessed a beheading during his captivity by the Islamist militants.


In following days, they hid in a hospital and other buildings before deciding no rescue was coming. Attempting to leave the militant-controlled part of the city, they were stopped at a Maute checkpoint. There, militants tested residents to see if they were Muslim or Christian: Only those who could reply to a Muslim greeting in Arabic were allowed to leave.

Mr. Samiahan, unlike most of his relatives, failed the test and was locked in a warehouse. On his second night, one captive tried to loosen his bonds while the Maute were sleeping. When fighters discovered the ruse, they performed the beheading and forced the remaining hostages to bury the head, Mr. Samiahan said.

It took the military several days to mobilize and push Maute fighters back from western portions of the city and liberate the city hall and hydroelectric dams that provide most of Marawi’s power. The Maute fought back fiercely, killing several troops.

By May 28, bodies of at least 16 civilians had been recovered, according to military officials, including those of eight men who were dumped in a ravine—the number had climbed to at least 47 late last week. Several were shot in the head with hands bound, accompanied by a sign in a local language reading “traitor,” according to local media reports.

The Agus river separated the battle zone, left, and the safe zone in Marawi.

The Agus River bisects Marawi, with the central business district and Marawi’s largest mosque and church in the Maute-controlled east. Maute fighters fortified three bridges, presenting a formidable obstacle to the military’s counteroffensive, and soldiers who tried crossing were met with sniper fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

The military, unused to urban warfare, called in airstrikes. Lacking guided munitions, the Philippine military divebombed the city with FA-50 jets and OV-10 Bronco propeller aircraft. On May 31, a badly aimed airstrike killed 11 soldiers. Government officials called it a tragic incident and launched a review.

In early June, the U.S. disclosed it was providing special forces assistance to Philippine troops but didn’t elaborate.

The constant aerial bombardment devastated Marawi’s center. Businessman Solaiman Mangorsi, 58, said he lost nearly $600,000 in damaged property after bombs struck areas that included a bookstore and other properties he owned. He said he wasn’t insured.

By mid-June, the battle had become a grind, with both sides digging in. Militants avoided airstrikes by boring holes in walls so they could move from house to house undetected.

A Christian hostage, Lordvin Acopio, a 29-year-old teacher, said militants forced him and other captives to make improvised explosives from firecrackers and shrapnel. They sent other hostages to search houses for guns, food and ammunition.

As the weeks passed, more hostages escaped. Mr. Samiahan, who witnessed the execution, broke free after discovering a padlock wasn’t properly closed. He made a mad dash for the military-held portion of the city, leaping over concrete barriers and plunging into the river and to safety.

Mr. Acopio escaped at night after a mosque he was held in was bombarded with tear gas. He and a priest scrambled through a hole blasted in the building, he said, and “just ran and ran and ran.”

Teacher Lordvin Acopio, 29, was held hostage by militants he says forced him to make improvised explosives.

By early September, the military had achieved several key victories, taking back landmarks including Marawi’s largest mosque. And it concluded, based on intercepted terrorist chatter, that Abdullah Maute had been killed in late August. By September’s end they had retaken the remaining bridges and pushed the militants into a few blocks bordering the lake.

The final battles were fought in close quarters. In one mission, Sgt. Roderick Peruandos of the Philippine Marine Corps, led a team to clear houses on the approach to what is known as the “White Mosque,” where senior militants including Mr. Hapilon were believed to be holding out. Moving room to room, they spotted a hole in the floor, when suddenly a homemade grenade was tossed out.

One corporal, who celebrated his 27th birthday with his squad just a few weeks earlier, was killed almost instantly, said Sgt. Peruandos. The grenade was made, he said, out of scrounged shrapnel and explosives from firecrackers and unexploded bombs dropped during airstrikes.

The other marines fled, leaving Sgt. Peruandos alone to fend off insurgents with rifle fire as he wrapped a tourniquet around his wounded leg. After an hour of bombardment, he crawled to safety, a bone in his leg snapped in two. The insurgents, though weakened, were left secure in their redoubt.

The government on Monday said Omar Maute and Mr. Hapilon had been killed, and the military said its offensive had boxed the remaining militant-controlled area to one or two hectares. The bodies of the two leaders were recovered and the remaining 30-odd fighters “were seen scampering in disarray,” the military said.
Displaced people from Marawi at an evacuation camp in Pantar district, southern Philippines. Photos: Linus Guardian Escandor II for The Wall Street Journal(3)

If Marawi is declared militant-free, the Philippine government will then face painstaking work clearing improvised explosive devices and rebuilding the city. Tens of thousands of displaced people whose homes were destroyed remain in government-run camps.

Sgt. Peruandos, who has fought communist rebels and gangs in Mindanao for nearly all his 15-year military career, said he had never encountered an enemy like those who nearly killed him in Marawi. “It’s like they don’t care for their lives,” he said. “They just want to kill or be killed.”

After authorities declared the militant leaders dead, a pro-ISIS messenger channel said the group would train new recruits with combat knowledge learned from the battle, according to SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist activity online. The channel declared: “Marawi is just the beginning!”

A government soldier took up position in the battle area of Marawi in September.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #123 on: October 24, 2017, 11:03:28 AM »

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/23/world/asia/isis-philippines-mindanao-marawi.html?emc=edit_th_20171024&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193&_r=0
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« Reply #124 on: October 25, 2017, 12:53:22 PM »

Against Jihadists, the Philippines Wins the Battle but Not the War
Oct 25, 2017
By Phillip Orchard

The Philippine government has declared victory in the battle of Marawi City, the provincial capital in the restive southern region of Mindanao that Islamic State-backed jihadists seized in May. Those who led the siege have been killed. With Marawi recaptured, the Islamic State’s most ambitious attempt to date to establish a “province” outside the Middle East and North Africa is over.

But the Marawi crisis underscored problems that will continue to dog the Philippines, a country that cannot fully control all its territory. It has become the arena in which Southeast Asia’s most pressing geopolitical issues play out but is mostly unable to resolve them on its own. A lasting peace in Marawi depends on how much foreign counterterrorism assistance Manila receives and how much support it earns among Mindanao’s moderate separatist groups – which are singularly capable of preventing the region from being used as a base for Southeast Asian jihadists – a growing concern as Islamic State fighters from the region return home from Syria and Iraq.

Mostly Contained

When it began, the Marawi siege took the international community by surprise. So too did the amount of time it took to root out the militants, who, the international community would soon learn, were entrenched, well-armed and protected by the scores of hostages they had taken. Its protraction is explained partly by the military’s aversion to using the kinds of tactics that would kill the hostages. But it is also explained by the inadequacy of the Philippine military. Footage of Philippine troops taking cover behind wood-plated armored personnel carriers showed just how dilapidated the armed forces are.

Manila had little choice but to court the international community for support, finding a familiar ally in the United States. In early June, U.S. special operations forces were seen on the ground near Marawi, officially in a training and advising role. The U.S. also expanded surveillance operations already underway in the Sulu Archipelago, a stronghold of one of the Islamic State-linked groups that joined forces to take the city, Abu Sayyaf. Shortly thereafter, more allies joined the fray. Australia sent P-3C Orion surveillance planes and deployed special operations forces to train their Philippine counterparts. Singapore sent surveillance drones. Russia and China sent thousands of rifles and vehicles.

 
(click to enlarge)

The siege, moreover, expedited long-delayed plans for the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia to launch trilateral patrols in the Sulu and Celebes seas, a vast expanse that has developed into a hub of piracy, militancy and black-market smuggling. In addition to the obvious benefits of securing lawless waters, the patrols may facilitate greater security cooperation among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which have long been hesitant or ill-equipped to band together to tackle regional security threats.

The results of the assistance are clear, if sometimes mixed. Thanks in part to the additional surveillance, the so-called Maute group and Abu Sayyaf, the jihadists responsible for the siege, were never able to open up a second front that would have stretched the Philippine armed force even thinner. Though it’s unclear how much the joint patrols and enhanced aerial surveillance in the Sulu and Celebes seas have disrupted flows of militants and materiel, the fighters that held Marawi did not appear to have received additional foreign support once operations to retake the city began in earnest. The jihadists never even succeeded in using their base to orchestrate major one-off terror attacks in Manila or other urban areas. (Of course, the recapture of Marawi doesn’t end the threat of attack posed by other jihadist cells or lone wolves.)
Abu Sayyaf and the Maute group took a major risk in attempting to capture and hold territory. And they had good reasons to do so. Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon — the Islamic State’s designated “emir” in Southeast Asia – had been under pressure from Islamic State leaders in the Middle East to make a headline-grabbing move outside of the group’s base on the island of Basilan, in the remote Sulu Archipelago. The region’s myriad other Islamic State-linked groups are small and largely disconnected, and IS hoped that Marawi could serve as proof of concept for a Southeast Asian province. But it has proved difficult for jihadist groups to hold territory, even in places where they have a lot of grassroots support. Defending a fixed area like Marawi gave Manila a place to concentrate its forces and a relatively straightforward battlefield objective. It also startled the international community into action.

Now that the fight is over, jihadists will likely try to regroup, stretching the Philippine military with multiple, albeit smaller hot spots across a wider area. To address the continuing threat, the Philippines will need the continued support of its allies. Notably, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana attributed the rise of the Islamic State in the country to the drawdown of U.S. troops earlier this decade. The trilateral patrols are likewise important but remain a work in progress, since cooperation has routinely been hindered by lingering historical disputes and sovereignty concerns. Yet outside powers tend to lose interest when clear and present dangers go away, and new counterterrorism efforts may not benefit from the impetus for cooperation that Marawi brought about.

Fill the Voids

The Philippine military succeeded in disrupting the two strongest jihadist networks in Mindanao and in depriving the Islamic State of its primary foothold in Southeast Asia. But it has not killed the ideologies endemic to the region. And in Muslim-majority areas of Mindanao, where a dizzying mix of ethnic separatist groups have been acting against the state violently if intermittently for centuries, the ideological struggle is bound to the fate of their political aspirations.

The political problem is the stalled implementation of an agreement to establish a new semi-autonomous administrative region in Muslim-majority parts of Mindanao, to be known as Bangsamoro. The regional government would almost certainly be headed by Mindanao’s two strongest ethnic Moro separatist groups: the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Both groups are more moderate, larger and more powerful than their jihadist counterparts. Both see the jihadist groups as a direct threat to the viability of the new Bangsamoro region — and thus have the motivation to keep the jihadist movement largely in check. This is particularly important in remote areas that the Philippine military has never been able to fully subjugate. (In fact, the MILF has been cooperating closely with the Philippine military for years and played a central role in preventing an Islamic State-linked Moro splinter group from disrupting the Marawi operation.) Perhaps most important, their political objectives are tied directly to age-old Moro advocacy of autonomy, which has a broader appeal than the messages of the jihadists. The moderate groups can play a critical role in denying the jihadists grassroots support and sanctuary while providing the military critical intelligence and operational assistance.

However, the Bangsamoro Basic Law — the implementing legislation of the 2014 peace agreement with the MILF, which would formally establish the new Bangsamoro region — has stalled in the Philippine Congress, subject as it is to shifts in the political climate. The Marawi siege renewed a sense of urgency to pass the bill; President Rodrigo Duterte himself has endorsed it. But peace agreements have routinely fallen apart at similar stages in the Philippines, usually leading to spikes in violence. Fighting surged in Moro regions in 2008 after the Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional an earlier peace deal. And the recruiting strength of the Maute group is a direct result of the failure of an earlier version of the Bansamoro law to find its way through in Congress. (It stalled after a 2015 outbreak of violence purportedly involving MILF fighters.)
The MILF and the MNLF need to show that the peace process with the government is bearing fruit to keep younger fighters in check and prevent the jihadists from gaining grassroots support. The jihadist threat will return in strength if moderate Moro groups do not believe it is in their interest to cooperate with the military. And now that the Islamic State has been dislodged from its capital in the Middle East, the threat will only intensify as militants return home to Southeast Asia.

Manila, of course, is hesitant to surrender control of the region to the MILF and the MNLF – and for good reason. The MILF has cultivated ties with foreign terrorist groups in the past and has sheltered foreign fighters, and the lines between it and splinter groups are blurred by clan loyalties. In a Catholic-majority country, the politics rarely favor sweeping concessions to the separatists, and military skepticism runs strong. Still, the Marawi siege leveled a provincial capital, exposing the limits of the state’s power in its restive south and its vulnerability to external forces. Manila’s partners — both foreign and domestic — are well-positioned to help fill the voids. It’s becoming harder for Manila to stomach the status quo.
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