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The MILF remains such a potent foe - far more powerful than the high-profile, renegade Abu Sayyaf guerrillas currently holding hostages on Basilan, just to the south of Mindanao - that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's government is returning to the negotiating table. The talks begin tomorrow in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, in another attempt to resolve an armed insurgency that has cost an estimated 120,000 lives over the past 30 years.
In 1996, the government of the Philippines signed a peace accord with the separatist Moro National Liberation Front; both the MILF and the Abu Sayyaf are considered splinter groups of the MNLF. Today, while the military has said the MILF has aided the Abu Sayyaf, the MILF maintains that it condemns the smaller organization, suggesting that the bandit group's brutal tactics are the desperate acts of a community driven to desperation by long years of government oppression.
The task facing the negotiators is a daunting one. Time and again, failure has awaited efforts to reconcile Muslim Mindanao's demand for secession from a nation that is predominantly Christian, and Manila's determination to maintain its sovereignty over the region.
Last year, Col. Salvador's 64th Infantry Battalion was part of the government offensive that forced the MILF to abandon its stronghold of Camp Abu Bakar, a sprawling area of countryside in the southern Philippines. MILF leaders, including the group's chief, Hashim Salamat, had to flee. But the guerrillas themselves simply melted away into the forest. Now, Salvador admits ruefully that the Army's much-acclaimed victory was a hollow one.
Such gestures are meant to win over Muslim hearts and minds, and convey the message that Manila represents more than a conquering army. But it may be too little, too late. Centuries of oppression and neglect have left Muslim parts of Mindanao the most impoverished and destitute areas of the country. Christian farmers have gobbled up huge swaths of agricultural land previously owned by Muslims. Illiteracy and unemployment are rife.
"The only solution here is a negotiated political settlement of this problem," he says. "The [Muslim] people here in Mindanao should be asked in a referendum which government they want to establish for themselves...."
The MILF position is complicated by a division within its ranks. Some hardliners remain committed to the group's longstanding objective: a separate Islamic state covering parts of Mindanao and other smaller islands where Muslims are in a majority. Other leaders seem to concede that such an ambition is unrealistic, and that greater autonomy - including the introduction of sharia, Islamic holy law - would be an acceptable compromise.
The stance of the government has also given rise to optimism. For example, Ms. Arroyo's administration has conceded the MILF's demand to open the talks on neutral territory. Libya was an obvious choice because of its close involvement in previous efforts to resolve the Mindanao problem.
Gunter Hecker, country director for the Asian Development Bank, says that for the first time, there's a real chance of a breakthrough in a conflict that has bedeviled the Philippines since the Spanish conquered Mindanao 400 years ago. "Everybody knows war is not the solution. This government senses that there is a chance for peace. So far, it seems good progress is being made."
In Myanmar, protests in support of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi were held in Yangon and Monywa regions. The protests come as the State Counsellor prepares to represent Myanmar in a case brought by Gambia before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for violation of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Notably, the case has led several ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) to announce they either support the government in defending the country against the charges or that they support the efforts to bring the case to the ICJ (Irrawaddy, 2 December 2019).
ACLED is the highest quality and most widely used real-time data and analysis source on political violence and protest around the world. Practitioners, researchers, journalists, and governments depend on ACLED for the latest reliable information on current conflict and disorder patterns.
A showdown is looming among rebels in the southern Philippines as insurgents factionalize and splinter amid infighting over government sponsored peace talks, threatening the fragile ceasefire and forcing an unlikely alliance between the military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Authorities are also contending with militants who have regrouped under another banner called Awliyah, led by a commander identified as Hatib Zacaria. Zacaria led an attack on government troops guarding a school construction site that is being funded by the United States.
Kato initially gained international prominence in 2008, when a court in Manila overruled a peace deal struck between the MILF and the government of then-President Gloria Arroyo that gave the rebels an ancestral domain in central Mindanao. That legal decision resulted in widespread attacks across the south, leaving 300 people dead and 600,000 people homeless. Four decades of civil war have killed 120,000 people, displaced another two million and ensured the resource rich Muslim south remains the poorest of the poor in the Philippines.
Smart Sanctions United Nations Security Council Resolution 1333, passed in December 2000, targets the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The Taliban ignored its obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 (passed in November 1999) and has continued to provide shelter to Usama Bin Ladin. In UN Security Council Resolution 1333, the Security Council: Demands the Taliban comply with Resolution 1267 and cease providing training and support to international terrorists.
Insists the Taliban turn over indicted international terrorist Usama Bin Ladin so he can be brought to justice.
Directs the Taliban to close all terrorist camps in Afghanistan within 30 days.
Until the Taliban fully complies with its obligations under this resolution and Resolution 1267, member states of the United Nations should:
The Government of Pakistan increased its support to the Taliban and continued its support to militant groups active in Indian-held Kashmir, such as the Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM), some of which engaged in terrorism. In Sri Lanka the government continued its 17-year conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which engaged in several terrorist acts against government and civilian targets during the year.
AfghanistanIslamic extremists from around the world--including North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Central, South, and Southeast Asia--continued to use Afghanistan as a training ground and base of operations for their worldwide terrorist activities in 2000. The Taliban, which controlled most Afghan territory, permitted the operation of training and indoctrination facilities for non-Afghans and provided logistics support to members of various terrorist organizations and mujahidin, including those waging jihads (holy wars) in Central Asia, Chechnya, and Kashmir. Throughout 2000 the Taliban continued to host Usama Bin Ladin despite UN sanctions and international pressure to hand him over to stand trial in the United States or a third country. In a serious and ongoing dialogue with the Taliban, the United States repeatedly made clear to the Taliban that it would be held responsible for any terrorist attacks undertaken by Bin Ladin while he is in its territory.
In August, Bangladeshi authorities uncovered a bomb plot to assassinate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a public rally. Bangladeshi police maintained that Islamic terrorists trained in Afghanistan planted the bomb.
IndiaSecurity problems associated with various insurgencies, particularly in Kashmir, persisted through 2000 in India. Massacres of civilians in Kashmir during March and August were attributed to Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LT) and other militant groups. India also faced continued violence associated with several separatist movements based in the northeast of the country. The Indian Government continued cooperative efforts with the United States against terrorism. During the year, the US-India Joint Counterterrorism Working Group--founded in November 1999--met twice and agreed to increased cooperation on mutual counterterrorism interests. New Delhi continued to cooperate with US officials to ascertain the fate of four Western hostages--including one US citizen--kidnapped in Indian-held Kashmir in 1995, although the hostages' whereabouts remained unknown.
PakistanPakistan's military government, headed by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, continued previous Pakistani Government support of the Kashmir insurgency, and Kashmiri militant groups continued to operate in Pakistan, raising funds and recruiting new cadre. Several of these groups were responsible for attacks against civilians in Indian-held Kashmir, and the largest of the groups, the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, claimed responsibility for a suicide car-bomb attack against an Indian garrison in Srinagar in April. In addition, the Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM), a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, continues to be active in Pakistan without discouragement by the Government of Pakistan. Members of the group were associated with the hijacking in December 1999 of an Air India flight that resulted in the release from an Indian jail of former HUM leader Maulana Masood Azhar. Azhar since has founded his own Kashmiri militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and publicly has threatened the United States. 041b061a72