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    Default Catch All OEF Philippines (till 2012)

    Smithsonian - Waging Peace in the Philippines by Eliza Griswold.

    "They'll slit your throat on Jolo," people told Col. Jim Linder, head of a U.S. military task force in the Philippines. He recalled the prediction as we buzzed toward Jolo Island in a helicopter. Linder, a 45-year-old South Carolina native who has the remnants of a Southern drawl, has led Special Forces operations in the Middle East, Central and South America, Eastern Europe and Africa for the past 20 years. His latest assignment is the remote 345-square-mile island at the southernmost edge of the vast Philippines archipelago. Jolo is a known haven for Al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups, including Abu Sayyaf, or "Bearer of the Sword," which has used the island for 15 years to train terrorists and to coordinate attacks.

    Curiously, Jolo was also one of the first places where the United States ever battled Muslim insurgents. On March 7, 1906, less than a decade after the United States seized the Philippines in the Spanish-American War, the people of Jolo—known as Moros, after the Spanish for Moors—revolted, among other reasons because they feared that the American effort to enroll their children in schools was part of a plan to convert them to Christianity. The Moros, armed with little more than swords, launched an insurgency against U.S. troops.

    "They chased a bunch of Moros up that old volcano and killed them," Linder said to me, pointing out of the helicopter window. Below, the island rose into a series of steep volcanic ridges, each one glowing a lush green against the silvered surface of the Sulu Sea. In the Battle of the Clouds, as the confrontation on Jolo 100 years ago is called, U.S. forces killed 600 to 1,000 people. "It was commonly referred to as a massacre," Linder added quietly.

    Today, a crucial but little-known battle in the expanding war on terror is under way on Jolo Island. Designed to "wage peace," as Linder says, it's an innovative, decidedly nonviolent approach by which U.S. military personnel—working with aid agencies, private groups and Philippine armed forces—are trying to curtail terrorist recruitment by building roads and providing other services in impoverished rural communities. The effort, known to experts as "the Philippines model," draws on a "victory" on the Philippine island of Basilan, where U.S. forces in 2002 ended the dominance of Abu Sayyaf without firing so much as a single shot. "It's not about how many people we shoot in the face," Linder said. "It's about how many people we get off the battlefield."

    On Jolo, U.S. military engineers have dug wells and constructed roads that allow rural farmers for the first time to transport their produce to markets. This past June, the Mercy, a U.S. Navy hospital ship, visited Jolo and other islands to provide medical and dental care to 25,000 people, many of whom had never seen a doctor. American military medical and veterinary teams have held mobile clinics, where Special Forces, speaking native Tausug and Tagalog, gathered information from local residents as they consulted on agriculture and engineering projects. American soldiers are even distributing a comic book designed for ethnic Tausug teenage boys thought to be at risk of being recruited by Abu Sayyaf. The story, Barbangsa: Blood of the Honorable, tells of a fictional young sailor named Ameer who defeats pimply-faced terrorists threatening his Philippine homeland.

    The southern Philippines has long served as a "war laboratory," says Marites Vitug, author of Under the Crescent Moon and a leading authority on armed rebellion in the region. "All sorts of armed groups dominate a populace long neglected by government," she says. "Local rulers compete for legitimacy with armed rebel groups, bandits, Muslim preachers, Catholic volunteers, loggers legal and illegal, the Marines, the Army. In this sense, Abu Sayyaf was ripe for growth. Modern history has proved that whenever the legitimacy of a state suffers and the economy goes down, other forces come to the fore as an alternative."...
    Much more at the link...

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    This is fantastic. When I was part of OEF-P in 2002 we weren't allowed to even think about staging operations on Jolo.

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    Default The Islamic Insurgency in the Philippines Part 1

    The Islamic Insurgency in the Philippines Part 1 - The Belmont Club.

    The story of the Islamic insurgency in the Philippines is the story of the gradual and partial reversion of Philippine territory, originally incorporated by the American wars against the Moros in the early 20th century, to its former state. Prior to the US pacification campaign against the Moros between 1899 and 1913 the Sultanates of Sulu, Maguindanao and Buayan -- Muslim Mindanao -- were effectively independent from Spain. Although the Spaniards nominally claimed the entire extent of what is now called Palawan, Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, they did not exert effective control over it, and could not have bequeathed it to a successor Filipino state. It was the Americans who accomplished that...

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    ....there was also a decent piece on the Belmont Club back in November comparing Iraq and the Philippines.

    The potential for lessons learned seems to be bouncing through many minds lately, as there recently was a related discussion on INTELST, stirred up by an individual posting the old 'net e-mail about Pershing and pigs. However, I have to say that the old thread on SWC was far more substantive...

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    Default Southern Philippine Island Plays Out Drama in War on Terror

    22 February VOA - Southern Philippine Island Plays Out Drama in War on Terror by Douglas Bakshian. Posted in full per USG guidelines.

    Far from the headlines and the rest of the world a drama in the global war on terror is playing out on Jolo island in the southern Philippines. A Muslim guerrilla group called Abu Sayyaf is on the run from the Philippine military while U.S. water, road, and health projects are making life better for the people. But is it yet time to declare victory? Douglas Bakshian recently traveled to Jolo for a look at things.

    There is much talk these days in Philippine and U.S. military circles about winning the war on terror on Jolo island, and ending a long struggle against the Abu Sayyaf Islamic terrorist group.

    Years of fighting the guerrillas failed to produce peace. So the Philippine military, with the help of U.S. advisers, began addressing civilian needs - roads, schools, water systems and medical care.

    By alleviating some of the desperate poverty on Jolo, the military defused some of the anger and frustration that fuels violent movements.

    General Juancho Sabban, commander of the Philippines Marines who are in the forefront of the operation, says this is all about winning public support.

    "The secret of all these operations should be the people," he said. "If you win the people, you win the war."

    The Abu Sayyaf is one of several groups that over the past 30 years have fought to create a Muslim homeland in the southern Philippines, a predominately Christian country. The government has negotiated peace deals or ceasefires with the two dominant militant forces.

    Unlike other separatist groups, the Abu Sayyaf has become best known for a series of deadly bombings and brutal kidnappings and murders.

    Since 2002, American special forces have provided training, analysis and intelligence to the Philippine military in the fight against the Abu Sayyaf. U.S. Navy Commander James Marvin helps lead the joint task force for the operation. He says the goal is to build confidence in the people that the military is a good thing and to drive a wedge between the terrorists and the people.

    "Basically, you take the bullies that are on the playground and you get all the kids on the playground to stick up for themselves, and tell the bullies, 'we don't want you here anymore.' And they are no longer bullies, they cannot function in that capacity and they move," he said.

    At the same time, the Philippine military focused its combat effort on smaller patrols conducting intelligence-driven operations that target terrorist leaders. It also adopted guerrilla tactics to fight in the dense jungles of Jolo.

    As a result, in recent months, several Abu Sayyaf leaders have been killed, and their followers driven into the hills.

    But will this mixture of the missionary approach and the iron fist be enough to eradicate a problem that was decades in the making?

    General Sabban says he thinks the Abu Sayyaf leaders will fight to the death.

    Radullan Sahiron, in his 70's is the main senior leader left. Sahiron's son, Ismin, was killed in a clash with the military last year. But before he died the general spoke with him by cell phone.

    "And I was trying to convince him to come down and live a normal life, go back to the mainstream," he said. "But he said 'we have an ideology that we are fighting for. I'm sorry, we really want to establish an Islamic state.' And then I told him, 'How about your father?' He said, 'my father will die here in Patikul [a Jolo area], fighting. It's either you get out of Sulu, or my father dies here.'"

    Some political analysts say the Abu Sayyaf can be wiped out, but that is not enough to bring lasting peace to Jolo. Ramon Casiple, head of Manila's Institute of Political and Electoral Reforms, says the problems that fostered the group's rise must be addressed.

    "But if you are asking me if the factors that give rise to Abu Sayyaf have been eliminated, and therefore in the future will there be more Abu Sayyaf? I think these factors have not been eradicated even with all the civic action that has been done already," he said.

    Sulu province, which includes Jolo, is one of the poorest regions in the Philippines. It has suffered neglect by the central government and long-standing grievances have powered successive rebellions.

    It also has a rigid hierarchical social structure with a few wealthy families at the top and dozens of clans. Casiple says previous development programs in the region have failed because only certain families or groups benefited.

    "There are certain sections that have been getting wealthier from all the aid. But the farmer at the bottom level has not improved," he said. "That is the breeding ground of rebellion. I mean you can have a road, but if the family doesn't have a car or a vehicle to use it, it is nothing for them."

    For all this to be untangled after so many decades of neglect will require a lot of work, and a fundamental and sustained change in Jolo's economic, social and political structures. More importantly, analysts say, Manila must shift from a policy of neglect to a serious commitment to better the lives of all Jolo's people.

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    Default What did this comment mean?

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39462815...ws-asiapacific

    “The safe havens are getting smaller on the islands,” said Master Sgt. Wade Christensen, a U.S. Army Special Forces instructor who came to Mindanao in 2003 on his first tour. He’s now on his second as part of JSOTF-P. “Since we’ve been here, there have been no attacks on the U.S. from terrorist organizations that originated here or terrorists that were trained in the Philippines.”

    So if the mission to defeat terrorist networks and to eradicate safe havens has been successful, why are U.S. Special Forces still operating in the southern Philippines?

    “The simple answer is that the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist groups are still here,” said U.S. Navy Captain Robert Gusentine, the JSOTF-P Commander. “They’re still active. They still aspire to violence. They still aspire to be a regional threat.”
    I have high confidence that MSG Christensen is an educated, level headed, and very dedicated warrior, so I suspect the media took the liberty of taking his statement out of context; however, since there are those who believe this is a success metric I would like to offer a counter view. There has been no terrorist attacks on the U.S. from a number of countries where we both have troops and don't have troops. The metric in itself is completely irrelevant.

    The reality is that the JI (and they're continually morphing, but done the less they retain their core ideology) and to a lesser extent the criminal/terrorist group ASG still pose a regional threat. I think the U.S. is getting a good return on its investment. If pressure is removed the problem will most likely get much worse, instead of slowly decreasing in scale. Ultimately the solution in the S. Philippines is a political solution, but JSOTF-P was immensely successful in reducing the level of violence in the region. It is time (has been time) for the diplomats to take advantage of the reduced violence and implement a sustainable political agreement.

    As for the claims that JSOTF-P is there to counter China, I have a hard time buying that is the reason they're there, but if it is a collateral benefit from being there so much the better. Based on comments by a few Philippine leaders, they're as worried about China's claims to hegemony over the South China Sea as much as we are, so instead of questioning our altruism for being in the S. Philippines, I think this is just another issue that the Philippines and U.S. will agree to partner on.

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    The originally cited article is riddled with inaccuracy and omission. Just a few from page 1: the ASG was not involved in the plot to kill the Pope in Manila, they did not provide sanctuary to Ramzi Youssef, and the American missionary couple kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf were collateral damage in a move aimed at a specific non-American target, not a target in themselves. This is so typical of reportage on the Abu Sayyaf, especially from the big-name parachute journalists who occasionally deign to grace us with their presence, that it no longer raises an eyebrow. When I got to this bit, though:

    It struck me that the most pressing problem in today's Philippines isn't terrorism or even government corruption but poverty and a lack of social mobility.
    I have to admit that I had a rather severe encounter with the "thank you for that astonishingly perceptive observation, now excuse me while I gag" moment. What is it that possesses Americans and persuades them that they can walk into environments of which they are clearly ignorant, look around in a full circle, and gravely pronounce to the world what "the most pressing problem" is... through the good offices of The Smithsonian, who really ought to know better? The superficiality is almost blinding.

    Looking at the pieces cited on this thread, I have to say I don't for a minute believe that our people on the ground here are as ignorant and naive as they come across, and I suspect that this theater is simple being used, as so often before, as a source for a few feelgood stories.

    There has been no terrorist attacks on the U.S. from a number of countries where we both have troops and don't have troops. The metric in itself is completely irrelevant.
    If this is the metric of choice we'd have to wonder why we're in the Philippines in the first place. Some people who have attacked the US have gone to ground here, and the explosives acquisition for the Bali bombing was done here, but have any of the groups here directly attacked the US?

    Ultimately the solution in the S. Philippines is a political solution, but JSOTF-P was immensely successful in reducing the level of violence in the region. It is time (has been time) for the diplomats to take advantage of the reduced violence and implement a sustainable political agreement.
    A sustainable political agreement is extremely unlikely, and there's very little that diplomats can do to produce one, let alone implement one. We tried once before, with support and pressure for the MOA/AD with the MILF, and managed to make matters worse. Possibly unwise to repeat.

    So if the mission to defeat terrorist networks and to eradicate safe havens has been successful, why are U.S. Special Forces still operating in the southern Philippines?
    I suspect that we've accomplished all we're likely to accomplish, and it wouldn't surprise me at all to hear that we're maneuvering toward extrication. Of course that would mean a return to business as usual (and the word "business" is not there by accident) but that was always going to be the case.

    This is fantastic. When I was part of OEF-P in 2002 we weren't allowed to even think about staging operations on Jolo.
    In 1982 I spent a fair bit of time on Jolo and Basilan, among other places we don't go now... alone. Things were different then; couldn't have done that in '72, '92, or '02. Still, it was... interesting, for want of a better word. Also interesting, the editors with whom I discussed plans to write about the situation all told me that the Muslim conflict was over and done, and the issue was Marcos vs the NPA. Tides ebb and flow; it is their nature. Fundamental change... maybe someday, but I suspect not in my lifetime.

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    Default Melo Commission Report

    BBC, 22 Feb 07: Philippine Army Linked to Murders
    ...The commission's report came a day after a UN envoy accused the army of being in "denial" over the issue of extra-judicial killings.

    A rights group said 830 activists had been killed since President Gloria Arroyo came to power in 2001.

    Ms Arroyo said she would take the findings and allegations seriously....
    Here's the actual report:

    Independent Commission to Investigate Media and Activist Killings

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    Hi:

    What the Melo report indicates is that the Philippine military is still suffering from the consequences of having Marcos once as their commander in chief.

    Neither the NPA nor the Armed Forces of the Philippines holds the high moral ground in my country's COIN campaign.

    I condemn these alleged political murders. I also believe they are counterproductive.

    Nonetheless, the Philippine public is indifferent. There is no uproar right now.

    This is due to the fact perhaps that most victims have been identified with the Maoist left. No one among the victims was ever identified with other political groups--the middle forces included.

    The indifference could be interpreted as the NPA's being isolated politically.

    But if the COIN campaign in the Philippines is to be brought to a successful conclusion eventually--no matter how long this takes--steps must be taken to further speed up institutional reforms in the AFP.

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    Default The Lesser and Greater Insurgencies of the Philippines

    The Long War Journal, 15 Oct 07:

    To Raise Them Up. Part 1: The Lesser and Greater Insurgencies of the Philippines
    B.A. Patty was recently embedded with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. In part one of his three-part series, Patty examines the roles of organizations such as Abu Sayyaf and MNLF in the insurgency and what Filipino and US troops are doing to squelch terrorist activities.....

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    The Long War Journal, 17 Oct 07:

    To raise them up. Part 2: The role of the Philippines in the Long War
    B.A. Patty was recently embedded with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. In part two of his three-part series, Patty examines the the Philippines' role in the Long War.

    Zamboanga, Philippines: Colonel David Maxwell is the commanding officer of the US Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines. In a two-hour interview he spoke about counterinsurgency in the Philippines and the larger Long War.....

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    Default Part III

    The last part of that series is here:

    To raise them up. Part 3: Investing in people

    I'm a longtime reader of SWJ. If anyone wants to discuss the series, I'll be happy to do so.
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 01-17-2008 at 01:59 PM. Reason: Fixed link.

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    Default on Mr. Patty's series

    Hi:

    Interesting.

    Comes now the issue. Marcos politicalized what was once a relatively professional Armed Forces of the Philippines.

    He also allowed--no, encouraged--AFP officers and men to help themselves to the public coffers--as long as they went along with his politics.

    For any long term results, the US will also have to help address these also.

    A good number of AFP officers still harbor Bonapartist tendencies. They will have to learn to respect civilian authority once more.

    At the same time, their grievances will have to be addressed.

    Incidentally, hazing at the Philippine Military Academy will have to be addressed. Much anecdotal evidence suggests that this hazing is what had made many of them torturers and perpetrators of human rights violations during Marcos' dicatatorship.

    This helped fuel the Maoist insurgency in the 1970s and 1980s.

    As one notorious torturer is reported to have said, and quoted in a book:

    "What I did to them (i.e. the torture she committed on political dissidents) was only what was done to me as a plebe in the PMA."

    Will the US help address this?

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    Default Some comments on the cited article; quotes in italics:

    The older Moro National Liberation Front fragmented into factions after the group and the Filipino government signed a peace treaty in 1996…. it disaggregated a large insurgent group into multiple factions

    This is simply wrong. The MILF split from the MNLF began in 1977, in Jeddah, during negotiations between the MNLF and Philippine Government representatives. Hashim Salamat and other Maguindanao and Maranao MNLF leaders, upset at the way MNLF Chain Nur Misuari was handling the negotiations, tried to take over leadership of the organization. Misuari denounced them as traitors and expelled them. They set up their own group, the “New MNLF”, and formally initiated the MILF in 1984. The Abu Sayyaf formed in 1990-91.

    This is not obscure information, it’s available to anyone with access to Google and 5 spare minutes. I find it disturbing that an article like this can be published apparently without the slightest attempt to check basic facts.

    This is not a minor detail. The presumption appears to be that this process of “disaggregation” disables the insurgency. If you look at the actual track record in Mindanao since the split, the disaggregation has made the fight more difficult. “Disaggregated” groups, such as the MILF and ASG, are more radical, less susceptible to negotiation, and more inclined to associate with international terrorist groups. Recently the MILF itself has shown a tendency to splinter, with disaggregated groups proving to be less inclined to engage in a peace process, more violent, and more inclined to harbor JI terrorists. They are also not necessarily easier to defeat, either militarily or politically. The failure of the MILF Central Committee to bring back any results from its negotiations and generally more moderate stance has enhanced the prestige of the breakaway radicals and raised the possibility that the entire organization may shift in that direction.

    Abu Sayyaf is an international terrorist organization with ties to al Qaeda and part of the global insurgency being waged from New York to Iran, from Iraq to Afghanistan, from Pakistan and Thailand to Indonesia and the Philippines. Two other networks – for they are that more than armies – are Moro separatists…

    This is a glib oversimplification that has been reappearing in many of the more superficial articles published on Mindanao. The MILF’s ties to JI and AQ are deeper and more continuous than ASG’s. The MILF often disowns ASG and publicly announces withdrawals from areas where operations against ASG are ongoing, but at the same time the MILF or some of its constituent parts will be cooperating with ASG, and with groups like the Pentagon and Al Khobar gangs, which do exactly the same things as ASG but are generally referred to as criminal syndicates, rather than terrorist groups.

    ASG has been through a series of discontinuities in both leadership and agenda, wandering across a continuum between Islamist terrorism and outright banditry. ASG has reached its peak in manpower and influence in its purest bandit incarnation: ASG’s expansion in 2000-2002 was a consequence of large ransom payments, not a sudden burst of enthusiasm for jihad. ASG has been most effective as a terrorist group when its manpower resources and territorial control have been severely constrained, and at one point military success against the bandit incarnation of the ASG generated greater connections to foreign terrorist groups and a return to a terrorist agenda.

    This article does not seem to have been supported by much real research into the backgrounds and histories of these organizations – bearing in mind of course that much of the secondary source material on these issues is highly questionable and based on information from individuals and institutions with vested interests in a particular presentation of events.

    The battles between the AFP and Abu Sayyaf and MNLF make the papers, but they miss the real story of the counterinsurgency in the Philippines. The real story is the movement of the populace away from support for conflict and toward a support for the peace processes. This has followed “a shift in strategy since April,” according to Raphael, to focus on what are called civil military operations, which focus on dealing with problems afflicting the people. “A lot of the villages have insufficient water,” the general said. “They have no schools. We are doing massive infrastructure projects.” Acting in cooperation with the JSOTF-P, the AFP have held numerous meetings at which medical treatment is provided to anyone who showed up, with any problem that could be handle in the field. The AFP has built schools and community centers…

    Meanwhile, the villagers – deciding whether to support the guerrilla – examine the situation based on their self-interest. If the government defends their interests and does not oppress, the villagers often choose prosperity over conflict. If the government is corrupt and suppresses the things they care about, the people often support an insurgency.


    The problem with this formulation is that the government IS corrupt. Corruption is institutionalized and embedded, and has been for generations. Why do you think there are no schools, water systems, or health care; why do you think these projects are necessary? Corruption is not just a matter of appropriating money, imposing huge kickbacks, etc. Virtually every politician on Mindanao maintains a private armed force accountable to nobody but the boss. These forces are used to ruthlessly suppress dissent and political or economic competition.

    This corruption cannot be fought by training or education of civilian and military officials. Corruption exists not because leaders aren’t aware of its adverse affects, but because it is extremely profitable, and because an entrenched culture of immunity has virtually eliminated risk associated with corruption.

    Corrupt officials do not have horns and tails. The articulate, sophisticated politician who parrots back all the rhetoric of international development for beaming American visitors is likely to be the same one who’s been raiding the treasury, collaborating with bandits, and maintaining a squad of goons to make sure nobody interferes with personal interests. The officer who recites COIN dogma and speaks earnestly of hearts and minds may be the same one who has sold arms to the ASG, taken cuts of ransom payments, and participated in a list of human rights violations as long as your arm – if you’re Yao Ming. The guy sitting next to him in the same uniform may be completely straight, but he will never rat out the guy sitting beside him, partly because the culture of institutional loyalty forbids it, partly because talking too loudly can endanger a career, and at times a life.

    The US has an advantage here that it lacks in many GWOT theaters. Aside from a tiny cadre of ideologues, the anti-US rhetoric of the Islamic fundamentalists has very little traction in Mindanao. Philippine Muslims generally don’t care about Israel and the Palestinians, American influence in Saudi Arabia, or American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan: their concerns are a lot closer to home. They do appreciate the projects, though they know quite well that the money isn’t coming from the Philippine government. More than that, they appreciate the impact that the US presence has had on the Philippine military: a Muslim cleric related by marriage to a senior ASG leader once told me that the human rights performance of Philippine troops is “1000 times better” when Americans are around.

    The US has won some hearts and minds. The problem with that is that the US is not a party to the conflict. If this change is to mean anything, the respect earned by the US has to be transferred to the Philippine government, and that is not happening. People will tell us whatever we want to hear as long as we’re the big dog on the block, but everyone down there knows that the Americans will leave, and when they do the same people who have been ripping them off and kicking them in the teeth for the last 40 years will still be in control.

    You cannot measure progress in Mindanao by Commanders killed or captured, or by transient territorial gains, or by forced rearrangements of the alphabet soup of insurgent acronyms: all this has been done before, with little to show for it in the long term. A better measure of progress would be evidence that the culture of impunity that lies at the core of Mindanao’s institutionalized crisis is finally being addressed. A real indication of progress would be a few Congressman, Governors, Mayors, Generals successfully prosecuted for corruption and collusion with terrorists and criminals, private armed forces disbanded and their members called to account for their crimes, members of Christian militias prosecuted for killing Muslim civilians. The first challenge faced by the Philippine Government is not to defeat insurgents, but to bring its own representatives within the rule of law.

    US forces cannot “win” the fight in Mindanao. All they can be expected to do is to create a secure space for the Philippine Government to step in, not with cosmetic projects but with real reforms in governance. Unfortunately there is little to suggest that the Philippine government has the will or the capacity to do this.

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    Looking back at that, I’l say that this:

    Virtually every politician on Mindanao maintains a private armed force accountable to nobody but the boss.

    …was an exaggeration. Northern and Eastern Mindanao do suffer from the same syndrome, but not to nearly the same extent. It would be more accurate to say that virtually every prominent politician and political clan in the conflict zones of Mindanao (and in some areas that are not currently conflict zones) maintains a private armed force accountable to nobody but the boss.

    A few other comments:

    Someday soon, someone is going to make his fortune in hardwoods from Tawi-Tawi. He will find a skilled, willing, English-speaking workforce. He will find it cheap and easy to get the goods to the shipping route that takes it to Japan or California, where he will get the best prices in the world. He will find that Sanga-Sanga is “going green,” as the Special Forces soldiers say.

    Cutting down the trees seems a strange way of “going green”, but possibly there’s a meaning there that I’m not picking up.

    It is very likely that someone, someday soon, will make a fortune out of Tawi-Tawi hardwood. It’s already happened on a lot of other islands. Generally the fortune is made by an influential local clan working with influential people in Manila. The only part of the money that will come to Tawi-Tawi will be the derisory wages paid to those who do the cutting, which will be spent before the last log is shipped out. The real profits will end up in Manila or abroad, and the only way anyone in Tawi Tawi will see any of it is if one of the principals is kidnapped and pays ransom.

    The logging itself will be absolute. You can talk about reforestation and sustainable logging, but that’s not the way it works in the Philippines: when it’s done the island will look like the “after” picture in a Gillette ad. If you want to see what happens next, you can look at any one of hundreds of islands that serve as an example. Without the trees the topsoil washes off with the first rains, choking reefs under masses of silt. Agriculture on these islands depends on inland forest cover: without it rainfall runs off in destructive flash floods and when the rain stops the land goes dry. Without surface water retention streams stop running, and people rely on pumping more and more ground water. Without forest cover the rainfall runs off too fast to replenish the aquifers (these islands are not large), and soon groundwater pumping leads to salt water intrusion, and the wells start yielding salt water.

    This is not imagination, it has happened on too many islands to count. You can make a good quick buck from cutting the trees, but the long term implications for the populace are very harsh.

    And this is what’s suggested as the kind of economic development that can provide a long term solution to insurgency? Allah weeps.

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    All of the above poster have valid points / counter-points on the failings and successes of the situation in the Philippines.

    I believe that the root cause of all of these issues can be more aptly summed up to a lack of an effective legal system. While this is more evident in the rural, conflict-affected regions it is also true in the urban areas. Over the years I've heard the southern Philippines described as the "Wild West," in a reference to the US in the 1800's. While most people say this with a smile on their face, they are more accurate than they truly recognize. During the USA's time of manifest destiny there was no effective legal system to govern the land. There were no means to settle a dispute through deliberation or legal proceedings; there was only the rule of the gun. Additionally, there was widespread corruption which was facilitated through this rule of the gun. Those with the power (guns) were the ones to rise to office and the ones to reap the rewards of corruption. This model holds true most accurately in the Bangsa-Moro areas of the southern Philippines though is also applicable to the "communist" NPA areas throughout Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

    The fighting between the AFP (which is a fairly effective fighting force as shown through the last few years' operational successes) and these "insurgents" will continue until this root problem is resolved. Government legitamacy (real, not just perceived) and an effective legal system (nationalized judges and a truly nationalized police force that are not accountable to local politicians) are absolute priorities to cutting the root.

  17. #17
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Default Recent Philippine Action

    Story from BBC here about some recent operations.
    The Philippine military says it has "liberated" five more villages from rebel control, as the fighting in North Cotabato province continues.

    Rebel commanders have confirmed that their forces are withdrawing to camps in adjacent Maguindanao province.
    And here is a link to a decent, short BBC backgrounder for those who might want more information about some of the factions involved.
    Last edited by Steve Blair; 08-12-2008 at 01:53 PM.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  18. #18
    Council Member Juan Rico's Avatar
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    Default Liguasan (Ligawasan) Marsh, Mindanao

    http://www.atimes.com/se-asia/DC22Ae01.html
    "No one is allowed to get our natural resources," vows Margani, with an intense gaze and a clenching handshake. "We want the United States to help us develop our oil, as long as they recognize our sovereignty."

    Observers note the irony of intense Muslims calling for American liberators. "The Americans who uprooted the Sulu sultanate [90 years ago] are coming back to install the sultanate," says a respected Muslim professor. "They are here to advance their protection of oil fields and shipping lanes. That's why the sultan of Sulu is pro-balikatan [balikatan: literally shoulder-to-shoulder, joint Philippine exercises with US soldiers]. That's why Malaysia is scared of the American presence here."
    http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5025/
    Liguasan Marsh, the country's largest wetland, had been the site of major encounters between the government, Moro rebels and lawless elements in the past using its forested portions as lairs.

    Tons of bombs have been dropped and bullets fired at the jungle portion of the marshland that severely eroded its environment.

    But just recently, two programs aimed at salvaging the marsh from further destruction has been launched at S.K. Pendatun town in Maguindanao.
    http://www.intellasia.net/news/artic...11247285.shtml
    The Liguasan Marsh holds a huge reservoir of natural gas worth hundreds of billions of dollars and the Bangsamoro people could become one of the richest if this area is placed under their control, the chief of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) said over the weekend.

    MNLF chair Nur Misuari revealed this during a peace summit held in Patadon village of this city where he addressed his followers and other participants.

    Misuari said that some American oil engineers told him about the abundance of natural gases in the Liguasan Marsh, the country's largest wetland.

    The Americans estimated total earnings from the natural gas of Liguasan -once explored -will amount to US$580 billion, Misuari said.
    لا أريد لأحد أن يسكت عن الخطأ أو أن يتستر عن العيوب والنواقص‏‏‏‏
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  19. #19
    Council Member Juan Rico's Avatar
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    Default Maps of Mindanao

    (RUMINT)

    http://blogs.inquirer.net/current/20...ater-malaysia/

    What many don’t know is that no less than US Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte discreetly came to Manila right after the Supreme Court temporarily halted the signing of the controversial GRP-MILF agreement last week. Prior to that, rumor has it (I can’t really confirm this) that US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney went to Bangkok to meet with President George W. Bush, who was then en route to China for the opening of the Olympics, to brief him on the Bangsamoro issue. Ambassador Kenney, by the way, had been meeting with MILF leaders before this whole imbroglio broke out.

    These only prove the fact that the United States’s involement and stake on the Bangsamoro issue is deeper than we all thought. And as always, the Americans would do all it takes- even thread dangerous waters if need be- just to pursue their national interest.

    I believe the United States is coddling- if not outright aiding- the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in exchange for major pro-US concessions.

    As early as 2003, the United States Institute of Peace, which is funded by the US Congress, has been involved in the “peace process” in Mindanao.
    لا أريد لأحد أن يسكت عن الخطأ أو أن يتستر عن العيوب والنواقص‏‏‏‏
    حافظ الأسد

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    Default

    I also believe they are counterproductive.
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