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Thread: Catch All OEF Philippines (till 2012)

  1. #61
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Default Another incident

    This one sounds pretty grim:

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/...88cbedf91d4b5c

    7 Filipino troops die, 21 wounded in rebel clash

    By JIM GOMEZ, Associated Press – 1 day ago

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Abu Sayyaf militants killed seven Philippine marines and wounded 21 others who were about to raid their jungle camp Thursday in some of the fiercest fighting this year between the military and the al-Qaida-linked rebels.

    About 30 marines maneuvered in stormy weather close to the encampment of more than 50 militants in mountainous Patikul township in southern Sulu province, setting off the gunbattle before dawn, regional military spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said.

    It was not immediately clear if there were casualties among the militants, who were led by Radulan Sahiron, a one-armed commander long wanted by U.S. and Philippine authorities for a string of bombings and kidnappings, Cabangbang said.
    The Government is trying to spin it as a "strategic victory", but 7 dead and 21 wounded out of a unit of 30 sounds like the kind of "victory" you wouldn't want much of.

    Subsequent coverage; apparently beheading and mutilaation are still very much part of the ASG repertoire:

    http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/33101/5...yaf-aquino-mad

    And another angle:

    Villagers 'set up' soldiers vs Abu Sayyaf?

    MANILA, Philippines – Members of the Marine Battalion Landing Team-11 were not expecting to face 70 heavily armed terrorists when they headed to the base of Abu Sayyaf commanders Radulan Sahiron and Isnilon Hapilon in Barangay Panglahayan, Patikul, Sulu on July 28, authorities said.

    One military official, who declined to be named, said the soldiers were "set up."

    He added that several residents came to the aid of the Abu Sayyaf.
    Reports are not entirely clear and some are inconsistent. Later reports refer to 7 dead and 26 wounded, though the Marine unit apparently numbered only 30. Possibly other Marine units arrived on the scene. Also very possible that some or all of the reports are not accurate... that's quite common with incidents in that area.

    Not at all clear what actually happened, but it doesn't sound like anything good.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  2. #62
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    The Philippine press isn't always accurate, but I suspect there is some truth to this, and if it happened as described then the locals in the area were very likely pro Abu Sayyaf and anti-government/military. This once again calls into question the efficacy of our approach to countering insurgencies through development efforts, since we have spent tens of thousands of dollars in that area on civil affairs activities, etc., and of course conducted MISO for years, and yet the ASG still maintains considerable support from the populace. This ties into another discussion we had on the blog about the importance of honesty when addressing problems, and not creating false perceptions of success by cherry picking happy stories to present to the public. There are deep structural problems within the Phlippine Goverment and its military, and U.S. assistance is only effective at the superficial level (tactically, and then only when the military is willing to listen and apply the lessons). Building a school, building a road, building a clinic are all humanitarian acts that have obvious humanitarian value, but they do not represent real change in the relationship between the populace and the government. The Filipinos need to honestly seek out why the populace supports the ASG and develop a more effective approach than the standard fare of random COIN tactics that have been applied again and again year after year with the same effect.

  3. #63
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Meant to include a link for the last story referenced:

    http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/re...-vs-abu-sayyaf

    US development projects have generated some real goodwill... toward the US. This has not really extended to the Philippine Government, and there's no reason why it should. The local folks know where the largesse is coming from, and it only serves to underscore the decades of neglect they've had from Manila. They can also see for themselves that the local plutocrats are still very much in charge.

    I don't really see the MISO side as having any meaningful impact on local sentiments. People generally know who their enemies are, even if they're told differently. People also have long memories, and there's a long history of human rights abuse in that area. It's going to take a fair bit more than what's been done to convince the Muslim villagers of inner Basilan that the Philippine military and government are no longer their enemies, and it's not something the US can do, even with all the miso in Japan, or wherever it comes from.

    I recall a comment here (or in an article referenced here) from a US military officer, to the effect that we need information ops so the people will know how cruel the Abu Sayyaf are. That's just appallingly naive: they already know exactly how cruel the Abu Sayyaf are. The average Basilan villager knows more about the Abu Sayyaf than the CIA. They also know what we apparently do not: the Philippine military also has a long record of cruelty, and that cruelty has been directed at them.

    I certainly don't know what specific grievances the villagers in this case had that led them to act as they are said to have acted, but I'd be willing to bet that it's local, likely personal, and has nothing to do with support a global jihad agenda or the very nominal Islamist agenda of the ASG.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    The Filipinos need to honestly seek out why the populace supports the ASG and develop a more effective approach than the standard fare of random COIN tactics that have been applied again and again year after year with the same effect.
    First they'd have to ask whether the people support the ASG or whether they simply oppose the government, and support anyone who fights against it.

    Ultimately they will come up against the need for fundamental changes in governance, and against the desperate need to bring the government's own functionaries in the military, police, and local government within the rule of law. In Basilan and Central Mindanao they will also come up against the need to mediate long-festering fights between entrenched settler populations and indigenous populaces, which is going to be very close to impossible. Typically these issues are not addressed, because nobody in power wants to touch them. Again, there is very little the US can do to address this. It's not our fight.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Typically these issues are not addressed, because nobody in power wants to touch them. Again, there is very little the US can do to address this. It's not our fight.
    You're correct in my opinion, we have little leverage to push the Gov of the Philippines to change at the local and national level, and the locals in the Muslim south very well know that the acts of kindness they benefit from are "mostly" driven by the U.S., and if we weren't there it is unlikely that the military would reach out to the locals.

    This isn't our fight, and much like other efforts we get involved in we find it difficult to extract ourselves from these activities. Our military involvement in the Philippines is small relative to Iraq and Afghanistan, and perhaps affordable, so the real question then is should it be sustained?

    With the current President of the Philippines I think it is worth having a little more patience to see if he can push his promised reforms through, but to date he has not yet demonstrated that he has the leadership ability of Magsaysay, and doesn't yet appear capable of pushing his reform agenda through to completion. However, he does seem to have a good vision, one that we should support in my view. Of course it is the Philippines, and it may turn out he is as corrupt as everyone else.

  5. #65
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    This isn't our fight, and much like other efforts we get involved in we find it difficult to extract ourselves from these activities. Our military involvement in the Philippines is small relative to Iraq and Afghanistan, and perhaps affordable, so the real question then is should it be sustained?
    My own opinion is that we've achieved all we're likely to achieve, and that hanging around is not likely to accomplish more. The issue now is not achieving military dominance, which the government has and has achieved before, but to follow that up with meaningful effort to change the style of governance. This, honestly, is not likely to happen: the political will is simply not there, and the US can't make it be there. No point in staying there and being seen as an accessory to the return of business as usual.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    With the current President of the Philippines I think it is worth having a little more patience to see if he can push his promised reforms through, but to date he has not yet demonstrated that he has the leadership ability of Magsaysay, and doesn't yet appear capable of pushing his reform agenda through to completion. However, he does seem to have a good vision, one that we should support in my view. Of course it is the Philippines, and it may turn out he is as corrupt as everyone else.
    I wouldn't expect too much of the current President, especially where Mindanao is concerned (or for that matter anywhere). I don't think he's personally corrupt, but he also hasn't the commitment or force of character to drive real change (which requires more than just challenging corruption).

    Historical side note: while Magsaysay effectively marketed the idea of reform, he also failed to push the agenda to completion, and actually produced very little change at ground level... one reason why the Huk rebellion subsequently re-emerged as the NPA.

    The Philippine government has on several occasions achieved transient "victory" in its various COIN campaigns, but has never cemented that "victory" by following it up with real reform. The reason, in a nutshell, is that the local/regional elites refuse to surrender their traditional prerogatives, which are fundamentally incompatible with real progress.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  6. #66
    Council Member Rachamim's Avatar
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    Dayuhan: I) The Black Shirts were the first organised paramilitary, having been officaly formed in 1969. The Ilaga on the other hand, despite the Muslim propaganda that imagines them to have been created by a group of Ilonggo mayors, only coalesced under the PC in late 1970 so there isn't a question there. Prior to that sanctioning by the PC there were sporadic acts of violence but they were devoid of political ideology and context. You are correct that both sides targetted non-combatants but only on side did so without provocation, the Black Shirts. Each Ilaga atrocity was a reaction to a specific atrocity commited by the Black Shirts, and later the Barakuda, and then the MNLF. This simple gameplan was imposed upon them by their PC handlers. They weren't handed rifles and unleashed (well, not in the MNLF Era anyway).

    II) Yes, Feliciano Luces, the infamous Kumander Toothpick. He is still alive and farming ube in Maguindanao. Not suprisingly he is left alone.

    III) On land ownership and "settlement." The main problem is that the issue really only boils down to competing claims within the MILF AOR in Central Mindanao, yet the MNLF and MILF have portrayed it as island wide. Muslims, despite their claims, never controlled more than a very small amount of land on Mainland Mindanao. In modern terms the land in question comprises parts of N.Cotabato, Maguindanao, slivers of Bukidnon, S.Cotabato, Sarangani, and virtually all of Lanao del Sur Provinces. Within those areas the land was controlled by Sultans, Rajahs and their lesser Datus. There was no private ownership.

    At the dawn of the American Colonial Era all groups were offered the chance to formally register their ancestral lands. Much has been made about the lower maximum amounts permitted for Muslims but the rationale was that if given free rein, the Tribal Aristocracy would compel its subjects to register land that would then be under the de facto control of the aristocracy. The Americans of course envisioned a Western style system of private land ownership that would enable the peasantry, as well as the aristocracy, to own land. Of course in reality the Americans allowed gross abuse of their own system by American owned corporations and investors but that is neither here nor there. The point being that the system now in place, first implemented by the Americans, sought to empower all groups.

    Unregistered lands became Public Lands, which were then used in re-settlement scemes beginning with the Colorums but reaching full stride under Magsaysay in his anti-Huk COIN programme. I cannot speak on the Cordillera, at least authoritatively, but on Mindanao it is a bit more complicated. The Islamicised Tribes existed under a very different system of governance. The Lumad, the Animists, were non-sedentary so that becomes an easier subject to approach and if the Government ever reconciles its schizoid Mineral Rights policies I do believe it will go a long way towards solving that end of the equation. In the Islamicised areas however, the aristocracy owned everything ("owned" as in "controlled"). This is never going to reconcile with a Western based system of land ownership.

    I believe that if the Government were ever willng and able to offer reparations in the form of socio-economic entitlements, it would neutralise most of the Muslim arguments over land. You never see conflict breaking out over fallow land. It is only cultivated, productive land, and to a lesser degree land under speculation for development. This is because unlike the Lumad, whose worldview and religion are intrinsically tied to specific geographic locales, the Islamicised Tribes view land as an indicator of wealth, or more specifically, productive land. IF a socio-economic package were offered in lieu of specific, tenable claims on land parcels it would stop a whole lot of the bloodshed.

    "Ilonggo Land Grabbing Association." That is an incredibly widespread belief and repeated by Islamic groups as a mantra, especially the MILF/BIAF. I have been hearing that for as long as I can remember.

    "The influx of non-Muslims into Central Mindanao during the Magsaysay Era caused the violence.": Surely you know that that region has never been devoid of incessant warfare. Datu Ali? Or in Lanao, the SE corner of the Lake? They have been attacking and slaughtering non Muslims for as long as written history has existed on the island. General Rufino (an Insurrecto operating out of Oroquieta in what is now Misamis Occidental) was dealing with the very same dynamic in 1902. If you couch it as "the influx aggravated the conflict" I would be in agreement but it didn't cause it. What caused it was the inability of Muslims to co-exist with non-Muslims, as Politically Incorrect as that may be.

    Dapitan, Karaga, Surigao, and Misamis were all Christianised when Central Mindanao was Islamicised. Muslims do not pre-date any other group and never formed a cohesive society, nor exerted unified control. Challenging the right of a sovereign government to utilise Public Lands at the expense of a tyrannical ogliarchy like the disparate Islamicised aristocracies is non-sensical. There is a lot to be said about how the government handled, or mis-handled the issue(s) but when all is said and done the Muslims are fighting over formerly unused land that just happened to sit within one or another petty ruler's line of sight. In more than a few cases, such as with Luces, Christians and Lumads purchased tracts from Muslims (in Luces case his father bought their rocky hillside from Andal Ampatuan Sr's father) only to have the Muslims re-claim it by force once it was cleared and productive.

    When the Muslims refer to all Christians as "settlers," there can never be peace. I have never met a single Christian on Mindanao who denied that Muslims have a right to live in Central Mindanao. Conversely, I have never met a single Muslim on Mindanao who would concede that all Christians are NOT "settlers." Using that as a barometer I think it is possible to assign a greater responsibility to Filipino-Muslims. Co-existence is inevitable, Christian Mindanowans are not going to flee en masse. If the Filipino-Muslims refuse to co-exist then yes, I place the onus on them.

  7. #67
    Council Member Rachamim's Avatar
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    The ransom is a no-brainer. Her husband has a Consultant negotiating so now its a question of price. On being led, the island is one of literally 120 off of Zam City, even city officials use guides. Sama live in mangroves, on boats (not just Badjao), etc.

  8. #68
    Council Member Rachamim's Avatar
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    When the AFP labels something a "camp" people tend to imagine a conventional setting. It is simply a village where most men of fighting age are fighters. Those that aren't are still effected by clan ties. The involvement of villagers is par for the corse on Jolo. The Xmas Eve IED in Camp Asturias? Though the church was inside a PNP compound the camp was protected only by chainlink and razor. All along the fence are squatter homes. ASG guerillas, assisted by friendly residents, infiltrated the compound via the roof of a squatter home. On and on and on.

    Also, more would have been decapitated in this last incident but all they had was a rusted bolo (machete).

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    On and on and on.
    sadly I think that sums it up....

  10. #70
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Responding here to some things that are here and some that were posted elsewhere… again to keep the NPA/Eastern Mindanao stuff on one thread and the MILF/Central Mindanao stuff on another.

    When we speak of Bisaya (Visayans) nowadays we tend to be talking about Cebuanos but from Oroquita City all the wat aropund the island, moving east, until the border of Davao Oriental and Davao del Sur was populated by Bisaya.
    Who’s “we”? Cebuanos tend to use “Bisaya” and “Cebuano” interchangeably, but “Bisaya” or “Visayan” reasonably refers to native speakers of the primary Visayan languages (Waray, Cebuano, Ilonggo, Kinaray-a) and sub-dialects. Boholanon, Surigaonon, Butuanon are not discrete languages, but mutually intelligible variants of Cebuano. “Boholanon” is Cebuano with an accent; if it’s a language, so is Australian.

    Not that any of that is really germane to the issue.

    As I’ve said a number of times, the Mindanao Muslim historical narrative is undoubtedly distorted and twisted to support Muslim political aims. The Visayan narrative is no better. If you’re hearing the story from Mindanao Visayans, you’re hearing a version of the story that’s every bit as distorted and inaccurate as what you’d hear from the Muslims.

    It’s true that there have always been Visayans in Mindanao, mainly along the northern coast with some minimal penetration up river valleys. What’s disputable is the assumption that because there have always been Visayans in Mindanao, Visayans from other islands therefore have the right to settle anywhere on Mindanao that they please.

    It’s certainly not true that all Visayans on Mindanao are settlers. It is, however, very true that virtually all Visayans in the parts of Mindanao now afflicted by insurgency – whether the MILF insurgency or the NPA/Lumad insurgency – are settlers. You cannot reasonably ignore the impact of settlement from the causation of these conflicts, especially given the scale of settlement and the demographic shift, in which indigenous groups have moved from majority to minority in so many areas, and the extreme pro-settler bias shown by government agencies, the “justice” system, and the security apparatus.

    Yes, there has always been conflict: I should have referred to THIS conflict; thought that was assumed.

    The Lambangians, Tedura, B'laan, and T'boli Tribes all lived as sub-humans and in exchange for giving the majority of their crops were allowed to remain on ancestral lands. The problem isn't Christians.
    At least they were allowed to remain. The settlers, especially the logging, mining, plantation and ranching interests, don’t want tribute, they want the land… and they take it. What’s the threat to these groups now? Are the settlers treating them any better than the Muslims did?

    Certainly the Maguindanao and Maranao political culture is feudal and abusive, but the political elite in the Visayas, and among the Mindanao settler community, aren’t exactly shining examples of egalitarianism and social justice themselves. How well have the indigenous communities in Panay or Negros – what’s left of them at least – been treated? What’s happened to indigenous groups in settler-dominated areas? That shoe fits more than one foot. There’s little doubt that Mindanao’s Muslims have suffered as much from the execrable quality of their own leadership as from anything else, but the settler political leadership hasn’t been a great deal better.

    You are correct that both sides targetted non-combatants but only on side did so without provocation, the Black Shirts. Each Ilaga atrocity was a reaction to a specific atrocity commited by the Black Shirts, and later the Barakuda, and then the MNLF.
    That I fear is a complete load of bollocks. Settlers were as often as not aggressors, and initiated as many atrocities as they responded to. Of course you won’t hear it that way from them… you’ve obviously heard their side, have you spent equal time with Muslims - especially the ordinary farmers who took the brunt of it - and heard their stories? If you’ve read the academic literature on the conflict, you surely realize that nobody who has systematically studied the events of that period shares that conclusion… do you really believe that they’ve all been duped by Muslim propaganda, and only the Mindanao Visayans are telling the truth? Surely you know what happened in Manili in June ’71… was that a “reaction to a specific atrocity”? I’m sorry, but it’s a complete crock of one-sided self-serving nonsense.

    In the early 80s I spoke to many militia members who were perfectly open about having attacked Muslim villages, not in response to any particular incident, just because Muslims needed to be killed. They thought it perfectly reasonable and defensible to kill Muslim civilians, including women and children… after all, the boys would grow up to kill Christians and the girls would have sons who would grow up to kill Christians. Easier to kill them when they’re small. These things were spoken as self-evident truth, often accompanied by display of assorted trophies. I was also told, among other things, that if I was ever speaking to a Muslim I should be certain never to turn my back, because if I did the Muslim would be possessed by an irresistible urge to stab me.

    Of course I’ve heard the story of Luces and the Ampatuans. I’ve also heard a few other versions of the same story. The Ampatuans were notoriously the worst of the datu families when it came to treatment of settlers and the Muslim peasantry alike, and there were confirmed incidents of the Ampatuans allowing land to be settled and then taking it back. Whether those incidents involved Luces remains debatable: the confirmed incidents happened in Ampatuan town, not Upi, and Upi was Sinsuat territory, not Ampatuan. Again, if you’re hearing the stories from Mindanao Visayans, you have to consider the possibility that what you’re hearing is distorted, and if you’ve not bothered to seek out the other side of the story at source, you’re not seeing the whole picture.

    I notice that your account completely omits the role of the settler political elite… are we supposed to pretend that they didn’t exist, that all the settlers were poor earnest hard working victims?

    Poor Muslims were pushed off cultivated land, in substantial numbers. Most of them ended up migrating to Cotabato City shantytowns, where populations soared in the 60s and beyond.

    Settler communities were exorbitantly favored by national government agencies: investment in roads, irrigation, schools, health care, etc was almost exclusively devoted to settler communities. Of course the settlers claimed that the stupid Muslims didn’t care and wouldn’t accept help, but that claim doesn’t stand up to even the most casual research or the most transitory look at period sources. It’s BS, to put a simple word on it.

    When the violence began, the government took the side of the settlers, exclusively. Muslims who fought settlers were outlaws, pursued by the PC and the army; settlers who killed Muslims were considered assets and given arms and support. No attempt has ever been made to bring settlers who committed atrocities against Muslim civilians to justice… unless of course they subsequently committed atrocities against Christians. A number of Muslims pointed out to me that the Manero brothers killed Muslim civilians openly and with impunity for years and were considered valuable assets of the state. Killing one Catholic priest made them public enemies.

    The extraordinary level of anti-Muslim prejudice, discrimination and outlandish caricature that prevails among the Christian populace, dating back to Spanish times (the Spanish of course had their own issues with Islam) is well documented and real. It exists to this day.

    What caused it was the inability of Muslims to co-exist with non-Muslims, as Politically Incorrect as that may be.
    Again, look at the scale of migration, the demographic shift, the enormous bias of government toward the settler communities. Hard to expect anyone to simply “co-exist” on those terms.

    There’s a similarity, at times uncanny, to Palestine. Whoever you think is “right” or “wrong”, at the end of the day the fact remains that if you introduce a new population into an inhabited area against the will of the current inhabitants, and the new population becomes dominant and begins taking over political control, violence will ensue… and each side will develop an exclusive historical narrative that serves their interests. This may be right or wrong, good or bad; not my place to say. It’s inevitable.

    The only thing that stopped the migration was the outbreak of violence. If the war hadn’t started, do you think the settlers would ever have stopped coming? Or would the settlement have continued, until the Muslims were relegated to the same role the Lumad now play in the east? What has happened to every Philippine indigenous community that decided to “co-exist” with settler intrusion?

    When the Muslims refer to all Christians as "settlers," there can never be peace. I have never met a single Christian on Mindanao who denied that Muslims have a right to live in Central Mindanao.
    In the areas affected by the Central Mindanao insurgency now prevails, virtually all Christians are in fact settlers. I’ve met quite a few Christians who told me that only a Muslim-free Mindanao will ever have peace. It’s been a bit of a mantra among the militias, and among the settler political elites when they think no outsiders are listening.

    Not possible to boil this one down to right and wrong, good guys and bad… unless you want to take sides of course. We’re all free to do that, but representing either of the constructed narratives in this conflict (as with most similar conflicts) as truth is a bit of a farce.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  11. #71
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Default Women's 'sex strike' ends fighting in Mindanao villages

    How do you say "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" in Ancient Greek?

    MANILA, Philippines - Women ended armed clashes in 2 Mindanao villages by not having sex with their husbands unless the men laid down their weapons, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

    The success of the "sex strike" allowed families to start rebuilding their communities, the UN's refugee agency said.
    http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/re...villages-unchr
    A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
    Two thousand pounds of education
    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail


    http://i.imgur.com/IPT1uLH.jpg

  12. #72
    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    Well, in modern Greek; "το πιο πράγματα αλλάζουν. τα περισσότερα πράγματα μένουν τα ίδια".

  13. #73
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Default The "Peace Process" in Mindanao: latest incarnation

    This is as good a description as any of the latest round in the sporadically recurring effort toward a negotiated peace in Mindanao

    http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/F...20Mindanao.pdf

    I'm not at all optimistic. Possibly a few lessons have been learned from the complete fiasco that resulted the last time out - the doomed-from-the-start MOA/AD that I once nominated for a "Peace Process Least Likely to Produce Peace" award, but still few grounds for optimism.

    All discussion of Mindanao peace negotiations, past or current, is welcome!
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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