Philippines: China Invests In A Surrender

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September 5, 2011: The peace talks with the MILF have resumed, and promptly stalled over how much autonomy the Islamic “homeland” in the south would have. The government will not give MILF what they want, and in response MILF has threatened war. One MILF faction has even issued a death list of ten prominent non-Moslems in the south (including two bishops) that should be killed to encourage the government to accede to MILF demands. But there’s another complication. The MILF proposal is opposed by the 15 largest Moslem clans in the south. The clan leaders are large land owners and businessmen who do not trust an Islamic government run by MILF “warlords.” While MILF depends on support from the clans, this is only because both groups want some autonomy. But the MILF is demanding more autonomy, and power, than the clan leaders are comfortable with. Moreover, the clans have their own armed groups, separate from the ones they support in MILF service. A civil war in the south is as, if not more, likely than a conflict with the Christian majority. Meanwhile, the government criticized MILF leadership for its continued failure to control a rogue commander, Ameril Umbrakato, who has, with some 300 followers formed an even more radical Moslem separatist organization (BIFF, or the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Front). Umbrakato is one of many MILF commanders who oppose any peace deal that does not give autonomy in the south and full control over non-Moslems in the south. MILF has declared Umbrakato a renegade, but has been unable to capture him and has not made any real effort to go after him. Kato has threatened a terror bombing and assassination campaign if the army comes after him.

On Sulu Island, the army is preparing for a large operation to locate and rescue six kidnapping victims. Locals, and the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers, are being warned to cooperate or else.

September 3, 2011: Communist NPA rebels have demanded that the government release five more of their leaders from prison before the peace talks begin. The government refused.

September 1, 2011: Chinese and Filipino negotiators have agreed to work out shipping lanes that will avoid waters both nations contest claims to.  China takes the long view, and is willing to invest in the Filipino economy and build relationships, even while pressing claims to most of international waters off the west coast of the Philippines.

August 22, 2011: In the north, a clash with the NPA left two rebels and a civilian dead.

 

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