Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mindanao Presses Manila for New Status

The demand for full independence has changed, but little else has. They have simply gone from wanting full autonomy to govern the area as a separate Islamic state to wanting to do the same thing while remaining part of the Philippines.

If anything, the revised set of demands would create a win-win situation for the jihadists. If they cut themselves off, they would at some point have to attempt to build a functioning economy, worry about infrastructure, and so forth -- in other words, act like a real state. They would also face more acutely the prospect of jihadist impulses turning inward in power struggles for the fully independent state.

By staying part of the Philippines, they remain attached to that stream of resources, and can continue to blackmail Manila with demands for the sake of stability in the region. It is also easier while technically remaining part of the Philippines to continue to revise the borders of the Islamic state that is still technically Filipino, than as a sovereign nation making demands on another: again, blackmail is cheaper than war.

What remains to be seen is how willing Manila is to overlook its constitution in a Sharia-for-peace deal for this region. "Philippine Muslims drop separatist demands," from Al-Arabiya, September 23 (thanks to Twostellas):

The chief government negotiator in peace talks with Muslim rebels on Thursday welcomed a rebel leader's statement that his group is no longer demanding independence from the Philippines and instead is seeking a status similar to a U.S. state.
Read it all here.

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