Fight against ISIS: U.S. military in the Philippines

WHAT IT IS

  • U.S. special forces have joined Philippine troops in a battle to retake the city of Marawi from an ISIS-linked militant group.
  • The fighting has been going on since late May, ever since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared Martial Law in the city, and has continued into late July.
  • The U.S. forces are not engaging in the fighting but are near the city, providing technical support the the Philippine forces.

WHY IT MATTERS

Previously, President Duterte has talked about ejecting U.S. military forces from the country and forcing the U.S. bases on the island country to close down. This move by President Donald Trump and the U.S. could be seen as a sign of goodwill to President Duterte that could change his tone on the future of a U.S. military presence on the island.

  • NOT OUR PROBLEM – “Leave Duterte on his own”

    • His own fault:   President Duterte spent his first year focusing on a war on drugs, totally neglecting the growing threat of ISIS.
    • Harms way:   While the U.S. troops are merely advising, they are still in harms way for a fight that is not in our backyard.
    • Don’t help an enemy:   The Philippines, lead by President Duterte, have been trying to leave the alliance they have had with the U.S. and have come out against the U.S. on many issues in the region.
  • ISIS IS ENEMY – “No matter, we need to fight ISIS”

    • Surprise:   President Duterte wasn’t even aware of the U.S. forces aiding the fight, thus he has no power to really stop it and will eventually take a softer tone if the U.S. forces prove successful.
    • No safe haven:   The U.S. can not stand by and allow a ISIS-linked terror group gain a foothold anywhere that could grow into a stronghold for ISIS.
    • Still an ally:  Despite the fiery rhetoric, the Philippines is still a long standing ally with a known U.S. enemy gaining ground in their country.

WHERE WE ARE NOW

  • An ISIS-linked coalition of extremist groups have taken a foothold in southern Philippines and have shown staying power in the region and will not be easily ejected.
  • The Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia; three Islamic majority countries, are having trilateral talks on how to best combat extremism in the region.
  • About 200,000 residents have been displaced, with 2,000 being held hostage by the Islamic groups within the city of Marawi.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

  • With the negative tone the Philippines has taken against a U.S. presence in the island country, why is the U.S. supporting its military?
  • Why is the U.S. helping a President who has multiple human rights violations, without demands that his disaster policies stop?
  • Have the extreme policies that President Duterte has taken actually increased the level of terrorism and extremism within his own country?