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Resilient Militancy in the Southern Philippines
Resilient Militancy in the Southern Philippines
Kobani’s central market destroyed by mortars from the Islamic State, December 2014. MAGNUM/Lorenzo Meloni

乘乱而为:基地组织和伊斯兰国

伊斯兰国、基地组织、博科圣地组织等极端主义运动代表了当今世界最致命的危机,导致国际反恐难度不断加大。他们利用战争、国家崩溃和中东地缘政治的动荡局势,在非洲建立新据点,给其他国家和地区带来持续不断的威胁。夺回失地需要各方避免重蹈覆辙,因为正是因为之前的失误造成了恐怖组织的崛起。

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伊斯兰国、基地组织、博科圣地组织等极端主义运动代表了当今世界最致命的危机,导致国际反恐难度不断加大。他们利用战争、国家崩溃和中东地缘政治的动荡局势,在非洲建立新据点,给其他国家和地区带来持续不断的威胁。夺回失地需要各方避免重蹈覆辙,因为正是因为之前的失误造成了恐怖组织的崛起。这就意味着要认清各个组织持不同的图谋;更加审慎地使用军事力量,在打败武装分子之前要具有有效的重建计划;并寻求开启沟通机制,甚至包括和强硬派对话。同样重要的是,敦促各方领导人展开对话,鼓励各方加入反恐,改革现行机制,理性应对恐怖袭击,借以缓解由这些组织助长的危机,阻止其它危机的爆发。最关键的是不能由于打击 “暴力极端主义”而忽略或加剧更严峻的威胁,特别是加剧国际大国和区域列强之间的对抗。

圣战分子——虽然国际预防危机组织不愿如此称呼,但该报告囊括的组织却自我认定为“圣战分子”,具体原因参见第二页——的影响力在过去的几年里迅速扩大。有的运动已经演变成强大的的反政府势力。他们占据领土,推翻政府,并以软硬兼施的方式来统治。虽然仅靠军事手段未必就能挫败他们,但其倡导的目标是难以通过谈判妥协满足的,因为这些目标在不同程度上和国家体制相悖,也遭到当地民众的拒绝。多数的组织显示很顽强,能够适应不断变化的局势。今天危机的区域分布意味着很多类似的组织将挑起未来的战争。

伊斯兰国重塑了全球圣战局势:自2013年脱离基地组织,它采取了比基地组织更血腥的策略;目前已经在伊拉克和叙利亚大部分地区建立了哈里发,掌控了利比亚沿海一带;招募了成千上万的外国人和几十个不同的运动;在穆斯林世界和西方国家开展恐怖袭击。它在几个前线同时作战-对抗伊朗的盟友,逊尼阿拉伯政权和西方世界-将宗教派系之间分歧、革命主义和反帝国主义的理念融入到圣战主义思想。伊斯兰国的领导层主要来自伊拉克,但此组织相当诡异:有的是千禧年信徒,有的是地方叛军;对于一些人他们提供了庇护,对另外提供了社会机会,还有的在此运动中中找到了人生意义;有些帮派希望巩固建立的哈里发,占领巴格达甚至麦加,或者引诱西方国家陷入末日战争。最主要的是,伊斯兰国的崛起反映了伊拉克和叙利亚的近史:美军入侵伊拉克所产生的乱局,逊尼穆斯林遭受排挤,整个社会处于无序混乱状态;总理马利基(Nouri al-Maliki)统治期间的苛待政策,以及叙利亚总统阿萨德及其盟友的暴虐手段。任何应对策略都必须兼顾到伊斯兰国的多面性。但是最主要的是要避免在黎凡特的逊尼穆斯林人受到迫害。在逊尼阿拉伯国家已经广泛传播着一种受迫害心态。这种心态也是个危险信号。

基地组织亦产生了演化,其部分是因受伊斯兰国崛起而被忽略之故。其在马格里布、索马里、叙利亚和也门的分支仍然强大,其中一些的实力还与日俱增。有的和当地叛军合并,显现出一定的务实行为,不轻易屠杀穆斯林,也遵守当地习俗。活跃在乍得湖流域一带的博科圣地组织也是近几年才出现的若干复兴运动之一。 它的根源是北尼日利亚在政治经济上受到的歧视,和根深蒂固的暴力。现在的博科圣地已经从一个个别的种族势力演变为一个泛区域的邪恶组织,即便参加了伊斯兰国也没有改变多少。不同标志的组织—自盟军从阿富汗撤退后东山再起的阿富汗塔利班独立组织、巴基斯坦的武装团体,如宗教派系活动、在中部省份作战的部落武装分子、以克什米尔或阿富汗为目标的隶属巴军方的武装势力-共同构成了演变于南亚地区的圣战现况。

扩张的根源难以一言蔽之。激进化的模式因地、因人而异。独裁、政治排挤、西方国家的干预不当,统治不力,和平的政治观点表达受阻,产生在受忽略范围里的对中央政府的不信任,传统的精英势力的权威在衰退,年青人数在增加,却缺少就业机会,这一切都促成了激进主义的增长。另一方面,其他意识形态的吸引力在不断减弱,尤其是圣战主义主要的意识形态竞争对手--和平的伊斯兰政治集团穆斯林兄弟会。随着埃及总统穆尔西(Mohammed Morsi)被罢黜以及随之而来的镇压,穆斯林兄弟会影响力大不如前。在一些地方,(错误)传导不宽容的伊斯兰教义为激进主义奠了基。目前穆斯林国家的教派间的矛盾一方面因伊斯兰国而加剧,同时也在助延伊斯兰国的壮大。

虽然根源错综复杂, 但触发因素则很清楚。2011年发生在阿拉伯的社会运动诸多都陷入了混乱,并为极端主义势力创造了巨大的机会。随着危机的加剧和演变、资金、武器和武装分子的流入以及暴力事件的升级,极端主义运动愈演愈烈。政府间的敌对情绪持续滋长,导致该地区的主要国家更加忌惮传统对手、而非极端主义势力,因此在打击伊斯兰国时,他们借机铲除其他敌人,或默许圣战分子代其行之。尤其是在中东地区,圣战分子的快速扩张是地区不稳定的结果,而非原因,其激进化亦是更多产生在危机中而非在危机前,它得益于敌人之间的相斗而不是靠其本身的实力。因而,这样的激进运动难以在除了战争地带和已崩溃的国家之外的区域扩张势力或占领地盘。

地缘政治博弈导致各国之间难以同仇敌忾。化解危机的起点应设为先减轻沙特和伊朗之间的敌对,因为正是两国之间的敌对推动着逊尼派和什叶派的极端主义势力,加深了区域危机,是今天的世界和平和安全的最严峻的威胁之一。缓和其它紧张局势-比如说,土耳其政府和库尔德武装分子之间、土耳其和俄罗斯、保守的阿拉伯政权和穆斯林兄弟会、巴基斯坦和印度甚至俄罗斯和西方国家-也至关重要。在叙利亚、利比亚和也门,打击圣战分子需要建立全新的秩序,使它们失去支持,团结其他势力。当然,这些做起来都不容易。但是一个更明智的做法是加倍努力去弥补分歧,而不是去遮掩这些分歧,建立一个虚幻的对抗“暴力极端主义”的共识。

同样重要的是要吸取9/11——2011年——袭击的教训。每个极端行动,即便彼此有联系,甚至有跨国联系,都有其自身的特点,植根于当地局势;每个都需要针对实情采取应对措施。但是它们会造成类似的困境和失策。国际大国和受影响的地区势力及政府要努力做到以下几点:

  • 别对待而不是一概而论:非暴力伊斯兰主义者,尤其是穆斯利兄弟会,愿意接受政治和宗教多元化并参与政治;把他们看成敌人的做法无异于自我挫败(错误)。有的运动是为了在国际秩序中寻求一席之地,有的是为了完全颠覆国际秩序;识辨这些不同点也很重要。即便属于后者的伊斯兰国,区域分支和基地组织分支也不是铁板一块。他们拥有忠诚的核心和跨国界目标,但下属官兵拥有不同的,而往往是局部性的动机。这些下属的忠心会随着情势的变化而改变,也可能被改变。(错误)即便都是激进组织,政府也应酌情而对,以终止暴力为大局,而不是把它们一概而论找架打。
  • 牵制是退而求其次的做法国际力量在推翻武装分子的时候必须有一套可行的后续方案;身处其腹地的当地政府也一样。目前实行在伊拉克的策略-摧毁整座城镇来打败伊斯兰,继而希望巴格达逊尼派的领导人能重建而重获失去的合法性-既不能解决逊尼派的苦衷,也不能为逊尼派创建条件来建立新的政治身份。在利比亚(错误)缺少一个大范围的政治和解方案的前提下,采取猛烈轰炸(错误),或使用西方军队来对付伊斯兰国,这个做法是错误的,有可能加剧混乱。无论是在伊拉克还是利比亚,放慢军事行动的步伐虽然也有严峻的风险,在想出可行的解决方案之前,不啻为一种更为保险的选择—对于想要介入的势力和处在受影响区域里的人来说都是如此。
  • 慎地使用事力量:虽然派遣军队是应对方案中不可或缺的一部分,但是政府在加入战争时仍然太过草率。植根于民间的运动利用的是民众真正的不满情绪,而且有时有外国势力的支持。不论他们的意识形态多么令人反感,要想根除十分困难。索马里和阿富汗的战争就反映出一些有缺点的对策:如轻易将敌人定义为恐怖分子或暴力极端主义者,或在没有更广泛的政治对策前提下,包括努力去调停,就试图建立中央集权式政府机构,并配以军事行动打击反对派。俄罗斯在车臣的焦土政策—抛开损伤人命不谈,也无法照搬到今天受影响的地区,因为这些地方有着驻守松懈的边境,垮台的政府,和采用代理人战争的做法。
  • 尊重原通常针对极端主义势力的军事行动要么适得其反,导致更多的人投奔极端组织,要么令当地平民夹在它们严苛的规则和盲目的军事行动之间。而圣战分子能够给当地平民提供护身,使免受政权、其他武装团体和外国势力的迫害,这也是圣战分子的一大优势之一,可以说相比意识形态,更是他们成功的原因。虽然圣战分子也常常犯下暴行,但在这些冲突里,所有参战方都违反国际人道主义法,所以重建规则必须为首重。
  • 减少使用定点清除:无人机袭击在有的地方可以遏制极端组织的行动,限制其打击西方部队的能力,及其领袖的活动。但同时助长了对当地政府和西方的仇恨情绪。那些能承受领袖的死亡的组织,以及取代他们的头目,往往更加强硬。要想预测定点清除带来的影响,在相对稳定的秩序下已是困难,更不要说在都市作战和圣战团体内部混战-基地及其他组织对抗伊斯兰国-的境况当中。即便抛开秘密的做法、合法性和问责制等问题不谈,定点清除并不能够真正结束圣战者的斗争,也不能绝对性地削弱大多数的运动。
  • 开启对话沟通渠道:虽然困难重重,但政府应该表现出谈判意愿,甚至和激进分子谈判的意愿。对于一些组织,象塔利班、索马里青年党领袖以及博科圣地组织和利比亚的伊斯兰教法虔信者,通过对话来减轻暴力的机会已经不复存在。和一个组织能否达成和解的最终决定权在该组织领袖手里,而不在政府手里。虽然政策制定者不能对伊斯兰国和基地组织的头目抱任何幻想,但是通过民众领袖、非国家调停方和其他中介展开非官方的、谨慎的对话渠道,这个做法仍是值得尝试。尤其是在涉及人道主义的问题上,双方或许能找到共同利益。
  • 缩减反暴力极端主(CVE)政策:CVE政策主要由一些发展组织率先提倡,旨在改进后9/11时代的安全政策。这是一个非常重要的议题。同样重要的是认识到哪些情况在某些地方有助于极端势力招募新兵。此外还有一要点是要把军事开支转移到发展援助项目上。但如果一味地把反暴力极端主义日程包装成“治本”之策,尤其是认为政府可以就此不用再尽对公民的基本义务,如提供教育、就业或补助弱势群体等,这样那就太鼠目寸光了。把“暴力极端主义”——一个定义模糊并常常被滥用的词——认定为地区稳定的主要威胁,实际上忽略了其它不稳定因素。民众对政治不满成了不合法行为;侮辱当地社群为潜在极端分子。政府和捐助国必须仔细思考反暴力极端主义政策的定义,对激进化成因进行更深入的调查,并广泛听取受影响区域个方的意见。
  • 建立冲突防机制:伊斯兰国和基地组织最近的扩张进一步显示了预防的紧迫性,应该在危机当中和危机上游采取措施阻止激进化。从西非到南亚,一旦在这一带出现进一步危机,很可能会形成新的极端主义—可能是这些运动本身引发了危机,更可能的是这些运动从危机的升级中受益,虽然一般的对策价值有限,但是敦促领导人建立一个更包容、更具有代表性的政治环境,平抚社群的怨愤,有分寸地应对恐怖袭击,通常是可取的做法。换言之,总的来讲,采取防范措施来遏制暴力极端主义比直接打击更有效果。

在过去的25年里,圣战暴力浪潮此起彼伏:第一次浪潮出现在20世纪90年代初,来自阿富汗反苏联圣战势力加入了其他地区的反政府组织;由基地组织引领的第二次浪潮在9/11袭击达到高潮;第三次浪潮由美军入侵伊拉克触发,今天的第四次浪潮是最危险的。一部分是因为伊斯兰国控制了地盘和提出的新意识形态—它同时利用了当地逊尼派以及普遍的对现行制度的不满。但大体上说,第四次浪潮之所以危险是因为后边有力量在推动,尤其是中东国家的混乱局势,和各地政府与民间社会的关系在断裂。世界领导人的担忧不是没有道理:伊斯兰国的袭击屠杀平民并危害社会团结。面临巨大的压力,这些领导人必须采取行动,但他们必须小心行事。一旦失策—无论是轻率的海外军事行动、血腥的国内镇压、将反激进化置于援助之上、网撒得太广、冒然出手打击“暴力极端主义”从而忽略更严重的威胁等—这一切都将加剧圣战暴力浪潮,让圣战分子计谋得逞。

布鲁塞尔,2016年3月14日

Police cordon off the site where twin bombs exploded two days ago, in Jolo town, Sulu island on August 26, 2020. AFP/ Nickee Butlangan
Commentary / Asia

Resilient Militancy in the Southern Philippines

Two August bomb explosions in the southern Philippines’ Sulu archipelago highlighted how militant networks may be splintered but are deeply entrenched. To keep the long Bangsamoro transition to peace on track, the government should strengthen outreach to local elites and improve cooperation between security services.

This article originally appeared in The Strategist, published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute under the title: Violence in southern Philippines highlights resilience of militant networks.

On 24 August, two explosions in Jolo, a city in Sulu province in the southern Philippines, killed 15 and injured 74—a chilling case of déjà vu in a region that has suffered repeated attacks in recent years. The incident set alarm bells ringing in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) about the resurgence of violence. The explosions also reheated familiar media tropes of Islamic State’s perseverance amid the coronavirus pandemic and seemingly ceaseless lawlessness. But it’s important to move beyond this narrative to grasp the structural foundations of the turmoil Sulu finds itself in.

While some details remain murky, initial information put forward by authorities suggests that the perpetrators may be linked to Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, a key figure in the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)—a loose collection of small networks in the Sulu archipelago. Sawadjaan’s group was most likely behind the Jolo cathedral bombing in early 2019 and has a history of harbouring foreign fighters. Sawadjaan himself, whom Philippine security forces might have killed  in an operation some weeks back, was allegedly proclaimed as the new emir of IS’s East Asia province in 2019.

The incident set alarm bells ringing in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) about the resurgence of violence.

His group, increasingly backed by another ASG commander, Radullan Sahiron, has also been the most lethal challenge to government forces in Sulu in recent years. Small kinship-based cells rooted in local communities make up the ASG. Some are primarily operating as kidnap-for-ransom outfits, others as militant groups opposing Manila’s authority and military presence in the majority-Muslim area. A few fulfil both roles.

At the BARMM’s fringe, Sulu has been a traditional bastion of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the first ethno-nationalist resistance movement in Muslim Mindanao, founded by Nur Misuari in 1972.

Over the decades, the MNLF splintered several times and entered politics at the provincial and municipal levels. It is currently divided into two factions: Misuari’s wing and forces loyal to Yusoph Jikiri, a rival leader. Both are political–military organisations with hundreds of men still under arms. A majority of local elites who dominate various Sulu towns are ex-MNLF commanders who have been co-opted by the state from the late 1970s onwards, and who themselves control private armies.

Because the ASG was established by disgruntled MNLF commanders, its resilience until now has been fostered by blood ties with MNLF personalities and politicians. This intricate web allows room for cooperation while facing a common enemy, such as the military, and while pursuing economic benefits, such as revenue generated by kidnappings.

Sulu mayors publicly denounce the ASG, but they often lack incentives to counteract its presence because of kinship ties or don’t have the capabilities to do so because of weak governance. This in turn gives ASG commanders such as Sawadjaan ample opportunity to draw on a base of young and deprived individuals for new recruits. The governance vacuum also allows the ASG to promote its ideology unimpeded, even if it’s directed at an external audience.

At the outer edges of the Sulu archipelago, violence has declined in recent years. But the largest island in the chain, Jolo, has remained the centre of gravity for continued conflict.

Since late 2018, Sulu has hosted an infantry division of the Philippine army with over 10 battalions that bear responsibility for a population of around half a million. Yet, despite the heavy military presence, the ASG, after several presidential announcements of operations and deadlines to eliminate it, hasn’t been defeated and continues operating from the mountainous town of Patikul and environs. Moreover, bad blood between the military and police has recently contributed to a schism within the local security apparatus, lowering trust in the national government.

In recent peace processes in the southern Philippines, Sulu was more of a bystander than a key participant. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), an MNLF splinter that emerged as the main guerrilla force in Bangsamoro after the MNLF entered politics, signed a peace deal with Manila in 2014. That process culminated in the creation of the BARMM in 2019.

The MILF has been leading the Bangsamoro Transition Authority since March 2019 but has only a miniscule presence in Sulu and limited soft power to shape governance. Sulu’s governor, Abdusakur Tan, the province’s kingpin who controls most local elites, initially opposed the province joining the BARMM but has since adapted to the new situation.

Still, a year and a half into the transition, the cooperation could be smoother. Historic competition for political dominance of Muslim Mindanao between Maguindanaons (those hailing from Maguindanao province who lead MILF and dominate the Bangsamoro Transition Authority) and Tausug (who hold sway in Sulu and command the MNLF) still lingers.

Moreover, various political dynasties that control Sulu’s municipalities are deeply entrenched, and it will take time for the transition authority to navigate the tensions between instituting necessary governance reforms and accommodating Tan’s leadership.

The Philippine army initially proposed imposing martial law in response to the bombings, but locals in Jolo—traditionally wary of the military—were sceptical about that option and army chiefs withdrew the proposal. Governor Tan also rejected martial law, yet he didn’t offer concrete proposals of his own for how to prevent further violence.

A comprehensive approach to tackling the complex nature of militancy in Sulu would require patching up strained police–military relations

Sulu is facing one of two likely scenarios in the aftermath of the bombing: a more intensified campaign by government forces against militants, or a business-as-usual, short-term security response without strategic vision. Either response, however, will need to supplement possible military or police action with measures outside the security toolbox, such as working with local governments and creating economic opportunities.

A comprehensive approach to tackling the complex nature of militancy in Sulu would require patching up strained police–military relations as well as complementary efforts in intelligence sharing between the two services. The Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia should also foster stronger cooperation to tackle cross-border flows of militants that feed into the ASG’s networks and to prevent its maritime renaissance.

Security institutions would need to distinguish between the objective of merely dismantling insurgent cells and the broader goal of curbing the power of clan-based networks that fuel the resilience of the ASG. Stronger political engagement by Manila with both MNLF factions could help enlist their support in that task. In addition, leaders in Sulu and the BARMM should increase their cooperation.

Sulu could also learn from the experience in neighbouring Basilan, where provincial elites and government security forces changed the status quo over the years by building a broad coalition against the ASG network. For now, it is unclear whether the fresh violence in Jolo will drive change in a similar direction.