Furthermore, it’s been said that the militants are also comprised of Malaysians and Indonesians as well, thereby raising the prospect that a regional jihad of sorts has been launched against the Philippines just like how something similar was done against Syria throughout the course of its own War on Terror.
Philippine House of Representatives member Francisco Acedillo warned the world during the 2015 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore about what his country calls the “Mindanao-Sulawesi Arc”, which is the poorly protected tri-state maritime region between the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia that he believed could be exploited by Daesh to establish a foothold in ASEAN.
The far-eastern Malaysian state of Sabah is no stranger to transnational threats such as illegal immigration and crime emanating from the Philippines’ Sulu archipelago, which is actually the headquarters of Daesh-affiliated Abu Sayyaf, while the Indonesian islands of Sulawesi and nearby North Malukku briefly exploded into religious violence at the turn of the century. It’s not hard to imagine how easily Malaysian and Indonesian terrorists in Mindanao could take their battlefield experience back with them to these neighboring regions in sparking a ring of crises all around the Celebes Sea.
That, however, is only if they succeed in making it out of Marawi alive, which is something that the no-nonsense Duterte is doing his utmost to prevent. Not only did he declare martial law over the entire island, but he ordered the military to go all-out in their anti-terrorist operations to snuff out this threat once and for all. In addition, he also proposed an innovative battlefield solution whereby local Maoist and Islamist rebels could join forces with the military in collectively fighting terrorism, something which could potentially work out to their political benefit after the conflict is over. This fresh approach seeks to kill three birds with one stone – deter “moderate rebels” from defecting to Daesh, defeat terrorism, and work towards clinching a deal to end all preexisting insurgencies.
We discussed the issue in further depth with Adam Garrie, managing Editor at The Duran.
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