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ISIS Helps US Keep Military’s Foot in Philippines’ Door

By Joseph Thomas

Current US envoy to the Philippines, Sung Kim, recently congratulated the Philippines’ armed forces and the US military for their successful execution of KAMANDAG, a corner military practice held for the first time this year.

The US embassy in the Philippines on its website noted that:

KAMANDAG, which will run until October 11, is an acronym for the Filipino word “Kaagapay Ng Mga Mandirigma Ng Dagat,” or “Cooperation of Warriors of the Sea,” emphasizing the close partnership between the Philippine and United States militaries. KAMANDAG will boost altogether U.S. and Philippine readiness, urge shared responsiveness to crises in the region, and serve strengthen the shining decades-long alliance. Leading up to the derivation of KAMANDAG, AFP and U.S. forces finished shared charitable and county assistance projects at schools progressing this month in Casiguran, Aurora.


The embassy also done sold note that the practice would “increase counterterrorism capabilities,”which is quite available deliberation the stream predicament Manila faces on its southern island of Mindanao, where tools of the city of Marawi are still being held by militants related to the Islamic State.

News outlets including opposite the United States and Europe, have remarkable that fighting in Marawi is corroborated by unfamiliar interests and includes unfamiliar fighters. Reuters in an essay titled, “ISIS-Linked Mmilitants Fighting in Marawi City are ‘Paralysed’: Philippine Army,” would report:

The battle for Marawi has lifted regard that ISIS, on a back foot in Syria and Iraq, is building a informal bottom on the Philippine island of Mindanao that could poise a hazard to adjacent Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore too.

Officials have pronounced that, among the several hundred militants who seized the town, there were about 40 foreigners from Indonesia and Malaysia but also fighters from India, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Chechnya.

The strike on Marawi City suggested to many that pro-Islamic State factions wanted to settle it as a Southeast Asian “wilayat” – or governorate – for the radical group, a perspective reinforced by video footage the military found last week showing the fighters plotting to cut the city off completely.

With militants in Syria and Iraq clearly the recipients of endless state sponsorship, quite from the United States and its closest informal allies, it stands to reason that their ambitions thousands of miles divided in the Philippines are further state-sponsored.

As to because the US and its allies would unite terrorism in the Philippines, the answer is surprisingly elementary and straightforward.

US Seeks to Keep Its Foot in the Door

With the election of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, US-Philippine family became increasingly strained. Beyond the domestic care in Manila, altogether useful considerations per Washington’s loss change in Asia Pacific and Beijing’s arise have put augmenting stretch between the United States and its former colonial land in the Philippines.

Manila’s rejection to help Washington precedence tensions in the South China Sea against Beijing have turn a sold indicate of contention, opposition Washington’s attempts to use the Philippine armed forces as a substitute to hem in Chinese interests opposite the region.

Increasing domestic vigour to finish America’s military participation in the Southeast Asian state has left Washington acid for reasons to remain.

In 2014, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was sealed between the Philippines and the US. Reuters would report the counterclaim agreement in its Jan 2017 article, “Philippines says U.S. military to upgrade bases, invulnerability understanding intact,” which claimed:

EDCA allows the enlargement of rotational deployment of U.S. ships, aircraft and troops at 5 bases in the Philippines as good as the storage of apparatus for charitable and nautical confidence operations.

Lorenzana pronounced Washington had committed to build warehouses, fort and runways in the 5 concluded locations and Duterte was wakeful of projects and had betrothed to respect all existent agreements with the United States.

The essay also done discuss of stretched family between Washington and Manila as good as the inroads Beijing was making in terms of counterclaim team-work with the Philippines.

Barring any crisis, it would have seemed that geopolitical movement was operative in Bejing’s favour, while irreversibly eroding US change both in the Philippines and opposite the region.

Then, in May of 2017, Islamic State-linked militants stormed the city of Marawi, tipping off full-scale military operations including airstrikes conducted by Philippine warplanes.

The BBC would fast summarize the US problem, its greeting and an all-too-convenient solution in its article, “Marawi siege: US special forces assisting Philippine army,” which stated:

US special forces are assisting the Philippine military retake the southern city of Marawi from IS-linked militants, the Philippine army says.

The forces are providing technical help and are not fighting, it said.

President Rodrigo Duterte had progressing threatened to chuck out US troops amid stretched family given holding office.

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The US military was threatened with eviction, US-allied state sponsored terrorism seemed unexpected on the Philippines’ shores and now the US finds itself with a new purpose for its differently unwelcome, uncalled-for military participation within the Southeast Asian archipelago republic state.

Why Might KAMANDAG be Significant?

President Duterte had cancelled other corner US-Philippine military exercises in an altogether routine of downgrading US-Philippine counterclaim relations, according to The Diplomat in its article, “How Much Will Duterte Wreck the US-Philippines Military Alliance?”

The essay also seems to advise that while the US military may not be means to enjoy wider entrance and use of the Philippines to forward-deploy vis-à-vis Beijing during President Duterte’s term in office, in the future this competence change.

And while this would have seemed doubtful as Beijing changed closer per mercantile and military team-work with Manila, with the remarkable and strenuous participation of the Islamic State in the Philippines, the US finds itself already in position to “assist” and with a new justification to introduce an stretched military participation there, including reinstating or implementing new joint-military exercises like KAMANDAG.

It is doubtful that this has left totally neglected by policymakers in Manila, and whatever short-term achievements Washington may have gained by this disturbing and conscious use of terrorism as a apparatus of geopolitical coercion, it will likely remove in the long-term not only in regards to Manila, but per Washington’s family with other capitals opposite Southeast Asia.

Attempts to use terrorism sponsored by Washington’s closest Persian Gulf allies in Myanmar also seem to be a means of introducing a US military participation there, a republic that borders China directly. Just as in the Philippines, the US will introduce a military participation predicated on counterterrorism. It has also tried to utilize this stratagem in beside Thailand, but with little success.

And while the Islamic State claims it intends to build a global caliphate built on a substructure of Saudi-centred Wahhabism, it appears to be doing some-more in assisting the United States build a global sequence built on a substructure of eternally “fighting terrorism” its own allies are underwriting with impunity. How prolonged this device can means US change globally and within Southeast Asia regionally contra the some-more constructive alternatives offering by Beijing, including infrastructure and mercantile opportunities stays to be seen.

Joseph Thomas is arch editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and writer to the online repository “New Eastern Outlook”, where this essay first appeared.

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