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菲律宾:小心翼翼地在棉兰老岛重返谈判桌
菲律宾:小心翼翼地在棉兰老岛重返谈判桌
Philippines: Addressing Islamist Militancy after the Battle for Marawi
Philippines: Addressing Islamist Militancy after the Battle for Marawi
Briefing 119 / Asia

菲律宾:小心翼翼地在棉兰老岛重返谈判桌

概况

菲律宾政府和摩洛伊斯兰解放阵线(MILF)之间的和平谈判回到了正轨。2011年2月双方已在吉隆坡进行了第一轮谈判,下一轮谈判已安排在四月底。虽然实现最终和平面临着巨大障碍,但总统贝尼格诺·阿基诺三世的执政至少为整个进程带来了一些新气象。新政府的和平问题小组似乎决意寻找办法摆脱谈判者的噩梦:多方卷入并行甚至有时相互矛盾的会谈;强大的潜在破坏者;由于民族分裂、部族不合、在摩洛人民(Bangsamoro)——棉兰老岛和苏禄群岛的穆斯林——中的政治利益分歧,而令摩洛伊斯兰解放阵线支持者内部的统一难以实现。

尽管存在这些障碍,谈判双方都对继续前进给予足够承诺,但双方也需要认识到一些严酷的事实。一是与摩洛民族解放阵线(MNLF)和摩洛伊斯兰解放阵线(MILF)之间相互独立的和平进程迟早要殊途同归,所以现在就需要对如何促使两个进程聚合多加考虑。另外一个事实是,不仅在马尼拉,而且在摩洛中心地区,都存在着对于在棉兰老岛的任何自治政府是否有能力执政的深切疑虑。摩洛伊斯兰解放阵线因此需要在和平协议签署前开展更多工作,以具体行动显示其最终成果将使现有棉兰老岛穆斯林自治区(ARMM)发生质变。

摩洛伊斯兰解放阵线仍然致力于与菲律宾“联合”建立一个下属自治州。过去,反对者一直将这视为对菲律宾主权的侵犯,所以对于这一概念和所提议的摩洛自治州边界都极力反对。另外,棉兰老岛穆斯林自治区本身也阻碍着建立一个下属自治州,这一自治区是由菲律宾国会在1989年建立的一个非正常运转的的政治单元,它最初是作为后马科斯政权为化解地区叛乱活动所做努力的一部分,后来在2001年略有扩大。它的命运在政府与摩洛民族解放阵线和摩洛伊斯兰解放阵线之间的对话中是个争端,因此也是成为协调两方和平谈判的主要原因。自棉兰老岛穆斯林自治区建立以来,该区贪污腐败和管理不善的历史也一直被批评者用以反对任何可能导致自治区权力或领土扩张的计划。阿基诺政府还未公开其谈判立场,但似乎原则上接受这一下属自治州的想法,只要其领土是接壤的;但细节的确定将是难点。此外,阿基诺政府也了解需要与潜在反对者进行协商并取得支持的必要性,决意避免那些曾导致2008年谈判破裂的失误。

如果这些就是谈判者需要对付的所有问题的话,和平谈判就已经将会相当困难,但实际上情况还要更为复杂。政府对马来西亚籍的调解人拿督·阿卜杜尔·奥斯曼·阿都拉的不满使得谈判的重新开始推迟到了2011年,因为马尼拉方面施压要解除他的职务;而现在他很可能被替换,但至于马尼拉是否认为他的继任者更为公正还有待观察。2010年12月,一位主要的指挥官阿梅尔·布雷加藤脱离了摩洛伊斯兰解放阵线军队并建立自己的部队,这一行动引起了人们对于摩洛伊斯兰解放阵线指挥和控制能力的担忧。2011年1月底,马尼拉中心商业区发生了公共汽车爆炸事件。虽然肇事者从未被查明,但这导致媒体猜测是否有阿布沙耶夫组织(ASG)或摩洛伊斯兰解放阵线的极端分子参与其中,令人再度联想起恐怖分子。

面对所有这些困难,政府与摩洛伊斯兰解放阵线和平进程的复杂架构一直是其优势之一,它为监控和解决争端提供了一个框架,这一框架不受行政变化的影响并保证一系列的利益相关者参与其中。目前的情况是停火变得无限期,但却尚未达成能令足够多人可以接受,并使其合法和得到执行的政治解决方案,而政党们需要找到超越这一现状的出路。

目前正在进行的和平谈判可以产生三种可能结果中的任一种。一是达成最终的全面合约,结束冲突并建立一个新的自治区。另外一种结果是旷日持久的谈判,虽然可能永远无法完整结束,但具有足够的前进势头,以使得摩洛伊斯兰解放阵线的地位和文件有效,以及确保停火机制就位。第三种可能性将会是谈判破裂,这种情况或是由于摩洛伊斯兰解放阵线一方对于谈判缺乏进展而倍感受挫而引发,或是由于外部事件,如区域内的袭击和报复事件而导致。从历史上来看,最终获得成功的解决方案并不太乐观。然而,有马尼拉真诚的政治意愿,就仍有保持谨慎乐观的余地。

雅加达/布鲁塞尔, 2011年3月24日

A tattered Philippine flag is seen near ruined houses, after battle between government troops and Islamic State militants, at the Islamic city of Marawi, Philippines April 19, 2018. REUTERS/Erik De Castro
Commentary / Asia

Philippines: Addressing Islamist Militancy after the Battle for Marawi

The Philippine city of Marawi, on Mindanao island, remains in ruins more than a year after a five-month jihadist takeover. To avoid fuelling militancy, Manila must involve locals in reconstruction, implement a 2014 deal with Mindanao separatists and go beyond efforts to counter jihadist ideology.

In May 2017, Muslim militants acting in the name of the Islamic State (ISIS) seized Marawi, a lakeside economic hub in the Lanao del Sur province of Mindanao, the second-largest island in the Philippines. It took the Filipino military five months to regain control of the city. Now, more than a year after the siege began, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration in Manila appears overwhelmed by the task of reconstructing the destroyed city.

Manila faces significant challenge in restoring its writ, enabling the 200,000 civilians displaced by the fighting to return home and, more broadly, preventing a militant resurgence in Mindanao. Thus far, the government has tended to view jihadism in the archipelago as mostly ideologically motivated. Its policies, as a result, focus mostly on promoting counter-narratives, often through hand-picked local religious leaders who typically lack local legitimacy. In reality, jihadism’s roots lie in decades of separatist insurgency and dysfunctional local politics. Carrying out the provisions of a 2014 peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest armed group on Mindanao, would better suck the oxygen from jihadists than attempts to counter their ideology. Manila also should involve local communities in reconstruction, so those efforts do not fuel anger at the state.

Muslim Mindanao

Muslims are a minority in the Philippines, making up about 11 per cent of the population. On Mindanao, however, that proportion rises to roughly 23 per cent. In 1989 the government formed the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with Lanao del Sur and three other provinces. This west-central part of the island has a rich Islamic heritage, embodied by Marawi with its concentration of historic mosques. When, in 1980, the city council designated Marawi an “Islamic city”, many of the city’s inhabitants saw that step as a welcome acknowledgement of this history. Now the city centre, including the Marawi Grand Mosque, has been reduced to rubble and is littered with unexploded ordnance, preventing the displaced from returning. Manila’s vision of reconstruction is a showcase of promenades and resorts built by a China-led consortium in the ruined commercial district.

The struggle to retake Marawi was the largest urban engagement for the Philippines armed forces since the Battle of Manila during World War II. The Maute Group, a jihadist group hailing from Lanao del Sur seized the city in an operation ISIS propagandists likened to the capture of Mosul in Iraq. It remains unclear how much operational guidance the Maute Group received from the ISIS core in Iraq and Syria during the battle. Open source evidence showed the Maute leaders, brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute, calling the shots during the final stages of attack planning.

This group of largely college-aged and, in some cases, particularly among the leadership, college-going militants held the city for months, thanks to a combination of local knowledge and planning capacity, funds generated locally and abroad, the arrival of dozens of foreign fighters and propaganda support from ISIS-linked media. The militant’s infiltration of the city before they seized it suggested the presence of sympathisers among Marawi’s inhabitants. Disenfranchised youth frustrated with the protracted Mindanao peace process and local clans who take an adversarial stance toward Manila-imposed policies provided a permissive environment for the Maute Group.

The protracted battle to oust the group highlighted limitations within the Philippines security forces in information gathering and urban warfare. These weaknesses, in turn, result at least partly from Manila’s struggle to adapt to the growing threat posed by jihadist cells adept at decentralised operations, after years fighting more hierarchical Mindanao secessionist groups whose structure emulates conventional military forces.

Jihadism in Mindanao should be understood against the backdrop of the 40-year Moro separatist conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people and displaced millions, and faltering efforts to find a political solution to that conflict. In 2014, the Philippine government and the MILF signed a peace deal – the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro – which pledged increased political autonomy, more equitable resource sharing and the demobilisation of former secessionists.

The Maute Group appears to have recruited former MILF fighters and has ties to armed factions previously aligned with the MILF.

Since then, however, the agreement’s implementation has faltered due to factionalism among militant groups, objections from some legislators to the autonomy it envisaged for Muslim Mindanao and breaches of a ceasefire between the Philippines and the MILF. Prior to the Marawi siege, MILF commanders had warned that the longer the peace process remained mired in the legislature, the more receptive their junior cadres could grow to ISIS propaganda. Indeed, the Maute Group appears to have recruited former MILF fighters and has ties to armed factions previously aligned with the MILF.

Implementing the Bangsamoro deal is thus essential to efforts to curtail the influence and spread of jihadism, as well as the MILF’s splintering or return to combat. On 31 May, after an almost three-year delay, the Philippine legislature approved the bill that would enact a future Bangsamoro Basic Law, the most important component of the 2014 deal. Once signed into law by President Duterte, the bill would allow for the creation of a “new, political entity” – called Bangsamoro – in Mindanao to replace the existing Autonomous Region. This would address the MILF’s demands for self-rule and for Bangsamoro to benefit from a share of the wealth from Mindanao’s natural resources. Government surveys estimate natural gas reserves in the Liguasan Marsh at 68 billion cubic feet, leading some Maguindanao politicians to refer to the province as the “next Dubai”.

President Duterte is expected to sign the bill this month, which should check the growing impatience of younger MILF commanders. But while autonomy for Bangsamoro will be a good start, Manila also needs to rethink some of its core assumptions about what drives many Muslim Filipinos to militancy.

Domestic Roots of Mindanao Militancy

In the case of the Marawi takeover some observers solely attribute the Maute Group’s ability to occupy the city and then withstand the siege through foreign cash and fighters. Certainly foreign funds and the apparent reinforcement of the group’s ranks with seasoned fighters from abroad seem to have helped. But the full story is more complex. Mindanao’s jihadist milieu has its origins in local clan and electoral politics, as well as the grey economies that sustain militants such as the Maute Group.

Prior to pledging allegiance to ISIS, the Maute Group was in effect a private militia for the eponymous clan headed by matriarch Farhana Maute, intimidating other clans that contested in local elections in the province. It used coercion to mobilise votes and extort contractors involved in public works projects. This provided the group with experience in purveying violence that would prove useful during the Marawi siege. In 2016, after candidates backed by Farhana suffered losses, the Maute Group appeared to adopt ISIS-related imagery, less because of any particular affinity for ISIS’s ideology than to burnish its fading image as a tough enforcer. It also began to attract former fighters from MILF, especially younger members who felt that the peace process with Manila was taking too long.

In the past, other militants in Mindanao have similarly deployed jihadist rhetoric to promote a more ferocious image. Best known is the Abu Sayyaf Group, formed in the early 1990s by Abdurajak Janjalani, a Filipino veteran of the anti-Soviet mujahidin in Afghanistan. After Janjalani’s death in a 2006 police raid, the Abu Sayyaf Group became infamous for kidnapping-for-ransom activities under the guise of jihad. Kidnapping for ransom is a lucrative supplement to communities that would otherwise derive their incomes from fishing and subsistence farming. The lack of law enforcement and the challenging agricultural environment in western Mindanao incentivise kidnapping.

Abu Sayyaf leaders have long been connected to jihadist movements elsewhere. In its early years, the group’s leaders enjoyed al-Qaeda links and the global movement provided seed funding for attacks in the Philippines. Since mid-2014, Abu Sayyaf factions, particularly in the western Mindanao province of Sulu, have used ISIS-associated iconography such as black flags, apparently in part to extract larger ransoms from foreign governments.

Involvement in jihadist militancy is often the result of a vocational decision within a family or a village, rather than an individual’s epiphany.

Factors that motivate people to join Mindanao’s jihadist groups are complex. While ideology undoubtedly plays some role, motives among those in outfits like the Maute Group tend to be more material. As described, some local militias adopt the ISIS brand to intimidate rivals or project greater ferocity. Among the rank and file, involvement in jihadist militancy is often the result of a vocational decision within a family or a village, rather than an individual’s epiphany. Not a single Filipino Muslim has attempted a suicide bombing in nearly five decades of insurgency in Mindanao. The rewards in the afterlife promised by jihadist ideology have yet to trump the real-world needs of militants and their kin.

Nor have local jihadist groups produced ideological texts that indigenise the global jihadist movement. Compare this to the prolific writings of other non-state armed groups in the Philippines, such as the Communist Party of the Philippines and its New People’s Army, which outline what form locally-rooted communism might take. Or compare it to jihadists in Indonesia, who have long produced original vernacular material in various formats including books, pamphlets and DVDs. No such material exists in the Philippines.

Thus far, Manila has not invested seriously in understanding the origins of jihadism in Mindanao. Since the election of President Duterte, the Filipino policy response has veered from military operations to policies framed through the lens of “countering violent extremism” (CVE) – mostly involving efforts to counter jihadist propaganda and indoctrination – despite the absence of a national policy that defines “violent extremism”. CVE framing tends to reduce the complex interaction of political and socio-economic factors that underpin Mindanao’s ongoing conflict to the single cause of jihadist ideology.

The dominance of CVE discourse is likely to render Manila’s policy in Mindanao ineffective. The government’s effort to promote Muslim clerics it views as “moderate”, for example, may further alienate a populace that derides them as mere mouthpieces. Strategic communications campaigns to counter extremist content on social media do not resolve the real-world issues such as dysfunctional politics and economic deprivation that jihadists tap to win recruits.

Aftermath

In the shattered city of Marawi, civil society and neighbourhood collectives eye Manila’s reconstruction plans warily. Many fear that reconstruction, which will most likely be carried out by a Chinese-led consortium, may mean permanent exile for the displaced.

The Duterte administration has declared it wants to build a “new Marawi”, which includes plans for transforming the battle area into an “economic zone”, though precisely what this would entail remains unclear. Its plans appear to ignore the murkiness of land ownership in the city, where competing deeds and informal property claims have sparked periodic clan and family disputes for decades. Many residents of the area that saw the worst destruction, known as the “most affected area”, do not have deeds to their houses, many of which now lie in ruins. They may lose the right to rebuild their homes, while potentially receiving no compensation from the government. Manila cannot solve the problem by paving it over.

Mishandling Marawi’s reconstruction, notably by carrying it out in a manner than angers inhabitants, also risks amplifying the idea, pushed by the Maute Group and its allies, that Islam is under attack in Mindanao. A botched reconstruction could also impugn the autonomy-centric political stance of mainstream groups such as the MILF, potentially driving more of its younger members toward jihadism.

Locals take considerable pride in the city’s heritage as the centre of Islamic education in Mindanao. Should the government disregard that sentiment – and proceed with plans to gentrify the city centre in order to lure tourists – it could further alienate inhabitants of the city from the state. It also could entrench the sentiment of some influential clans that deployment of state security forces in the city was tantamount to foreign occupation. This, in turn, would play into the hands of Maute Group remnants or other violent rejectionist movements that may emerge.

Instead, Manila should enhance measures to involve Marawi’s inhabitants in its reconstruction. Substantial local input would signal a deeper commitment by the central government to Mindanao’s autonomy, even beyond the provisions of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which itself should be enacted without delay. The Bangon Marawi (Rise Marawi) inter-agency task force supervising reconstruction should become an active partner of affected residents, rather than simply promoting the Chinese-backed plan.

Meanwhile, the Duterte administration should avoid pronouncements that cast Mindanao militants as “desperate” individuals driven to crime or hardcore terrorists who should be “eaten”. The Filipino security forces should instead refocus on intelligence analysis and build on their experience of peacebuilding, gained while the MILF was still in negotiations with the Philippine government. Nor should those officials who spearhead CVE policies pick which community or religious leaders will represent Marawi or Mindanao. Rather, they should focus on addressing the grievances that jihadist movements exploit, thus empowering individuals and communities that promote peace and support a political solution to the Mindanao conflict.

The jihadist takeover of Marawi, with the Maute Group able to leverage frustration at the gaps in governance and stalled peace process, was a jarring reminder to Manila of the depth of Muslim grievances in Mindanao. What started as militants’ tactical use of ISIS iconography ended in a protracted siege that brought into question the Philippines’ ability to attain peace in Mindanao. The government should take a holistic view of the drivers of conflict, being careful not to lose sight of those that predate the emergence of jihadist cells, notably the demands of many Muslims in Mindanao for a greater say in running their own affairs and reaping the benefits of the region’s natural resources. The Maute Group, for now, appears weakened, but if Manila mishandles the aftermath of the battle for Marawi and the reconstruction of that city, similar forces could easily arise in the years to come.

Joseph Franco, Research Fellow with the Centre of Excellence for National Security, helped with research and preparation of this commentary as a Crisis Group consultant.