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Philippines: Addressing Islamist Militancy after the Battle for Marawi
Philippines: Addressing Islamist Militancy after the Battle for Marawi
Report 240 / Asia

菲律宾:棉兰老岛问题的突破性进展

执行摘要

2012年10月15日,摩洛伊斯兰解放阵线(Moro Islamic Liberation Front,MILF)与菲律宾政府签署了一项协议。就很多方面而言这项协议都是一个突破,但与实现最终和平仍相去甚远。双方在多年的谈判过程中签署了数份协议,最近签署的这项协议——“框架协议”——同以前的协议一样,把许多棘手的问题搁置一边,也没有阐明如果未来要解决这些问题应该如何着手。当务之急是要在以穆斯林人口为主的棉兰老岛成立一个真正的自治区,为被称为邦萨摩洛的几个少数族群服务。该自治区应享有更多权力、更多领土和更多资源控制权。这份框架协议设想在动乱的、以穆斯林人口为主的南部成立一个新政府,新政府负责自己的财政收入,拥有自主的警察和司法系统。协议制订了一个多步骤的进程,要在2016年总统阿基诺三世任期结束时成立这个新政体。协议前进的道路困难重重。棉兰老岛或者马尼拉的政治活动可能会对其进行阻拦,另外要在不违背宪法的情况下移交足够的权力给邦萨摩罗政府,这一点也不太可能。在整个进程结束之前,MILF是不太可能放弃其武装的。

拥有一万两千名兵力的MILF是菲律宾最大、武装实力最强的叛军组织,而同该组织的和平谈判始于1997年。谈判进展极为缓慢,2000年、2003年和2008年发生的严重冲突曾三度中断谈判进程。2008年谈判的破裂具有破坏性的政治影响,因为它使得各方在实现最终和平的关键因素上的立场变得强硬。这些关键因素包括新的自治区邦萨摩洛的领土以及它与马尼拉方面的权力对比。处于政治风暴中心的是一个总括性的文本,叫做《祖传领地协议备忘录》(Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain,MOA-AD),最高法院判决该备忘录的条款违反宪法。这份备忘录也从未正式签署过。此后,要使和平进程回到正轨上非常困难,因为MILF坚持谈判在哪里中断就要从哪里重新开始。

现任总统阿基诺2010年6月开始执政,他无意再重复先前的错误。阿基诺政府向可能破坏和平进程的人进行咨询并向他们进行了保证。任何协议都必须符合法律和宪法的规定,也不能激起政治风波。 政府之前的策略是找到一种把MILF的注意力从2008年失败的协定上移开的方式。阿基诺当选的施政纲领是反腐,如果和平协议有恶化南部治理问题的风险,那么这样一个协议也并非他所希望看到的。MILF对其自身在这场谈判的持久战中所表现出来的顽强和前后的一致性颇为自豪,因此最初MILF并没有意愿把注意力转到这个新的方式上来。

直到2012年年中,谈判才开始取得实质性进展。当时各方开始起草一份文件,文件中涵盖了所有能达成共识的方面,而把不能达成共识的方面搁置一旁。 在和谈促成者马来西亚以及国际上其他一些与和平进程相关的第三方的推动下,MILF和阿基诺政府关系日趋紧密,框架协议的文本也逐渐成形。当进行到比较艰难的部分——领土问题时,MILF准备好了冒险,接受了一些可能难以获得它在棉兰老岛支持者认可的条款,但是这些条款却能给整个邦萨摩洛一个机会来决定是否接受实现最终和平的条件。

对阿基诺政府而言,在经历了数年海外秘密谈判之后让和平进程重回菲律宾,并给予棉兰老岛的其他势力一个机会,让他们享有发言权,这两点是非常重要的。尽管邦萨摩洛的政治格局四分五裂,MILF的领导人还是声称MILF代表了整个邦萨摩洛。他们同意为邦萨摩洛的其他势力腾出位置,让他们也参与谈判,并帮助他们起草新法律来建立一个新的邦萨摩洛政府。如果一切进展顺利,这将会提高和平进程的大众合法性;如果进展不顺,并且邦萨摩洛内部本身都无法达成一致意见的话,将会严重破坏地区自治的概念。接下来将会遇到的阻碍是在国会通过这项新法律。总统的广泛支持率和雄厚的政治资本将会帮助赢得马尼拉的利益相关方的支持,他在履行棉兰老岛和平承诺的决心究竟有多大,会宪法问题不可避免地浮出水面时,显得明朗。如果和平进程在任何阶段停滞下来,MILF的领导层将会很难控制手下的将领们,也很难再取得广泛的支持。

对邦萨摩洛而言,框架协议为实现和平、建立一个积极应对的政府以及给后代们带来一个更好和更繁荣的未来提供了可能性。虽然一切尚未改变,但是人们怀揣着真正的希望,那就是这一次将不同于以往。MILF、政府和国际上的伙伴们需要携手一致,以确保不让希望遭受破灭。

雅加达/布鲁塞尔,2012年12月5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.