The fight against international terrorism is not an easy thing, and the Pentagon knows this very well. After a recent failure in the anti-Taliban operation in Afghanistan, the US military decided that it might not be a bad idea to increase the number of soldiers in other hot spots, just in case.
A request to increase the number of US soldiers was sent to the president of the Phillippines, Gloria Arroyo. Now, there are 650 US soldiers in the Philippines, though, in the nearest future, this number will be increased by two times. Of course,only if the president agrees to it. At the moment, she is “studying” the request of the Americans.
On the one hand, many Philippine citizens are not satisfied the with US military presence, and the president has to take this dissatisfaction into account. While, on the other hand, Philippine authorities, despite their statements that Abu- Sayaf is living its last days, are not ready to annihilate this terrorist group with its own forces. This inability to fight in a civilized way is the reason why non-civilized ways are being used: for example, taking the terrorists’ relatives hostages.
However, it was clear from the very beginning that it would not be easy to defeat even such a small group like Abu-Sayaf. Small militant groups can easily hide themselves in jungles, and the American presence causes some dissatisfaction amoung the Philippine Muslims, who are the terrorists’ main source support. Thanks to this support, the terrorists reinforce their ranks and find, if necessary, a shelter and medical treatment.
Therefore, neither Philippine authorities nor their US allies can obviously win a fast and easy victory. However, nobody speaks about this. In fact, the main task for today is not to physically annihilate the militants, but to deprive them of the local Muslim population’s support. If Gloria Arroyo manages to solve this problem, nobody will remember the militants of Abu-Sayaf. However, how will such a task be accomplished? The answer to this question seems to be a mystery both to Manila and Washington.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru NTVRU.com photograph Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/03/18/38389.html