Asian nations urged to curb Daesh at its roots

Jesus Dureza
Updated 05 October 2017
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Asian nations urged to curb Daesh at its roots

MANILA: Daesh must be countered at its inception and the conflict in the Philippine city of Marawi is an “eye opener” from which other countries should learn how to defeat violent extremism, a senior adviser to President Rodrigo Duterte has told Arab News.
The terrorist group “should not be allowed to incubate and mutate. And more importantly, the root cause as to why so many people, especially the youth, are attracted to or resort to violent extremism, must be addressed,” said Jesus Dureza.
Fighting is raging in the Mindanao island city between Philippine security forces and two Daesh affiliates, the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf. It began in May, when government forces launched an offensive to capture the Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon.
Violent extremism is an emerging problem for the Philippines and other member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Dureza said. ASEAN, established in 1967 and comprising the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, is scheduled to meet in November.
Even when the Marawi crisis is over, “the problem has only begun,” Dureza said.
“It is not only the physical reconstruction of destroyed Marawi. The more difficult task is the social healing and mending of broken relationships resulting from violence.”
Earlier, at a regional symposium on humanitarian issues in the ASEAN region, Dureza said the Marawi siege was an “eye opener” on a “new game that has no rules on humanitarian law, human rights or respect for non-combatants.
“We should draw lessons from this so we can improve on how to jointly handle similar situations that will eventually become bigger and more threatening if we, in the ASEAN, continue to consider it less important,” he said.
Dureza said modern technology had been an effective tool in countering extremists in combat, but at a great price. “We see missiles, smart bombs and drones able to kill the enemy efficiently and quickly. With all this technological advancement, we lose the humanity part. Sometimes, we forget what effect it has on victims, especially innocent civilians.”
A leading security expert, Col. David S. Maxwell, said Daesh was struggling to survive defeat in Syria and Iraq, and was therefore “trying to keep its ideology alive by spreading to other countries where it is taking advantage of the conditions of political resistance that weaken governments and provide safe havens for training, recruitment, and eventual resurrection of its quest for the caliphate.
“This is what appears to have attracted them to Mindanao,” Maxwell said in a recently published article. He said Abu Sayyaf and the Maute group had embraced Daesh ideology “to enhance their legitimacy and gain recruits, resources, and respect.”
Maxwell is associate director of the Center for Security Studies in the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He is a retired US Army Special Forces colonel who served in the Philippines.
In his article, Maxwell said the nature of the problem in the Philippines was not solely a security threat, and while the Marawi siege was a lightning rod that brought focus on Daesh, “it is only a symptom of the underlying problem.”


US vice president Mike Pence accuses Iran of Nazi-like anti-Semitism

Updated 18 min 32 sec ago
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US vice president Mike Pence accuses Iran of Nazi-like anti-Semitism

AUSCHWITZ, Poland: US Vice President Mike Pence accused Iran on Friday of anti-Semitism akin to the Nazis following his visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland that had strengthened his resolve to act against Tehran.
"We have the regime in Tehran that's breathing out murderous threats, with the same vile anti-Semitic hatred that animated the Nazis in Europe," Pence told reporters on Air Force Two before landing in Munich.
He said that being in Auschwitz had made him reflect to "strengthen the resolve of the free world to oppose that kind of vile hatred and to confront authoritarian threats of our time."
His comments at the former Nazi concentration camp came a day after he said Iran was the “greatest threat to peace and security in the Middle East” at a conference on the region taking place in Warsaw.
Pence accused Washington's European allies of trying to break US sanctions against Tehran and called on them to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
"Sadly, some of our leading European partners have not been nearly as cooperative. In fact, they have led the effort to create mechanisms to break up our sanctions," Pence said.
Pence added that his country will keep a strong presence in the Middle East, continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with allies, and work with coalition partners to defeat Daesh to make the region safe for peace and prosperity.
He also said that there are winds of change happening in the region, with the recent historic visit of Pope Francis to the UAE and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Oman.