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MILITARY TURNAROUND

Expert warns on falling into IS ‘propaganda trap’

/ 02:27 AM May 29, 2017
Troops in Marawi

Government troops conduct a check point along a highway leading to Marawi three days after Muslim militants lay siege in Marawi City, Thursday, May 25, 2017. The exodus of thousands of residents has continued amid continuing battles between government forces and Muslim militants occupying several buildings and houses in the city where they hoisted IS style black flags. (Photo by BULLIT MARQUEZ / AP)

An expert on Islamic studies has cautioned against “falling into the trap” of government propaganda about the presence of the terror group Islamic State (IS) in Mindanao, particularly in Marawi City where gunmen from the Maute group have been wreaking havoc since Wednesday.

Julkipli Wadi, former dean of the University of the Philippines’ Institute of Islamic Studies, said he found the military turnaround surprising after it played down the IS threat before President Duterte assumed office in June last year.

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Wadi pointed out that the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ iron-fist policy did not end the Mindanao conflict, so it was doubtful whether Mr. Duterte could resolve the problem even if he extended martial law for the rest of his term.

“We might fall into the IS trap where the government reaction may result in transforming a molehill into a mountain,” he said in a phone interview.

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The threat of IS and Maute group should not be ignored, Wadi stressed, but he said the military had been conducting counterterrorism operations.

“So the fear of most people is that there might be another objective [behind the declaration] especially since the President said he would expand martial law,” he said.

Despite the country’s long experience with Marcos’ martial law, Wadi said the country had “not moved forward” since the same so-called enemies of the state cited by Marcos had been the same enemies cited by Mr. Duterte: Moro secessionists and communist rebels.

“What is so unique in the DNA of the Moro struggle that it could continue to engage the government [all these years]? So we keep doing things over and over again, because of the resilience and tenacity of the Moro rebellion,” Wadi said.

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TAGS: abu sayyaf, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Islamic State, Marawi crisis, Marawi siege, Maute group, Mindanao, Philippine news updates, Terrorism
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