Asian nations urged to curb Daesh at its roots

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

Asian nations urged to curb Daesh at its roots

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.”


Global virus death toll passes 1.5 million as nations plan for vaccine

Updated 04 December 2020

Global virus death toll passes 1.5 million as nations plan for vaccine

Global virus death toll passes 1.5 million as nations plan for vaccine
  • US registers record of more than 210,000 new Covid cases in 24 hours
  • UN chief warns that even if vaccines are quickly approved, the world would still be fighting the pandemic’s aftershocks

WASHINGTON: The world passed the grim milestone of 1.5 million coronavirus deaths on Thursday, as several nations planned to deliver much hoped-for vaccines early next year to break the cycle of lockdowns and restrictions.

The total number of cases worldwide jumped to 65,127,355, according to the John Hopkins University of Medicine's coronavirus monitoring center.

US President-elect Joe Biden said that on his first day in office he would ask Americans to wear masks for 100 days to help reduce transmission of the virus that is again surging in the country with the world’s highest number of deaths and infections.
“I’m going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. Just 100 days to mask — not forever,” Biden said in excerpts of an interview to be broadcast on CNN later Thursday.
But even as the latest positive news about a vaccine was announced, with the Moderna candidate showing it confers immunity for at least three months, several countries marked new Covid-19 records.
The US, for instance, posted an all-time high of more than 210,000 new cases in a 24-hour stretch to Thursday evening, meanwhile notching more than 2,900 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
And Italy registered 993 deaths, topping its previous record of 969 earlier in the year when it was the first European country to be affected by the pandemic.

To build trust in vaccines after they are approved, the 78-year-old Biden said he was willing to be vaccinated in public — following up on similar commitments from former US presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Biden also used the interview to say he had asked the government’s top infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci to join his Covid team and serve as a chief medical adviser.
But in a sign of the difficult work ahead, California announced new statewide bans on gatherings and non-essential activities, as hospitals in the nation’s most populous state face being overwhelmed.

The pandemic is showing little sign of slowing, with more than 10,000 new deaths recorded worldwide every day since November 24 — a rate never reached before, according to an AFP tally.
As the world tires of economically crippling restrictions, attention has turned to the race for a vaccine.
Britain on Wednesday became the first Western country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine for general use, piling pressure on other countries to swiftly follow suit.
But Fauci said Britain “rushed” its approval process.
“In all fairness to so many of my UK friends, you know, they kind of ran around the corner of the marathon and joined it in the last mile,” he told CBS news.
He later walked back his comments, saying he had “a great deal of confidence in what the UK does both scientifically and from a regulator standpoint.”
Also on Thursday, a study showed that the Moderna vaccine, which was recently demonstrated to have 94 percent efficacy, causes the immune system to produce potent antibodies that endure for at least three months.
In anticipation of such vaccines being approved, France announced that its vaccinations will be free and begin in January for one million elderly in retirement homes, February for 14 million at-risk people and spring for the rest of the population.
France was also mourning the latest high-profile figure to succumb to Covid-19, former French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who died at the age of 94.
Belgium’s government also said it intends to start vaccinating its most vulnerable in January.
But the raised hopes didn’t only garner the attention of governments — IBM said Thursday that hackers are targeting the Covid-19 vaccine supply chain.
The tech giant said it was “unclear” if a series of cyberattacks it uncovered against companies involved in the effort to distribute doses around the world had been successful.
IBM could not identify who was behind the attacks, but said that the precision of the operation signals “the potential hallmarks of nation-state tradecraft.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that even if vaccines are quickly approved, the world would still be fighting the pandemic’s aftershocks.
“Let’s not fool ourselves. A vaccine cannot undo damage that will stretch across years, even decades to come,” Guterres said while opening a special UN summit on the virus.
Guterres reiterated his call that vaccines be considered a “global public good” that are shared around the world.
More than 180 countries have joined Covax, a global collaboration initiative by the World Health Organization to work with manufacturers to distribute vaccines equitably.
A reminder of the pandemic’s society-altering effects came again Thursday with a landmark announcement from Warner Bros. studio, which said it will release its entire 2021 slate of movies on HBO Max streaming and in theaters simultaneously.
But some British football supporters were given a reminder of pre-pandemic days as Arsenal welcomed a crowd of 2,000 for Thursday’s Europa League win over Rapid Vienna.
It was the first time in 270 days that fans were back inside a Premier League ground.