Previous Session: Friday 11 August – The Islamist insurgency in the Philippines

The Islamist insurgency in the Philippines

In this Majlis we move beyond our traditional focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. Through a discussion of the current situation involving the so-called Islamic State in the Philippines’ city of Marawi, we address a number of issues of relevance well beyond that region. To this end we are very pleased to be joined by Dr Steven Rood, Distinguished Visitor at the Department of Political and Social Change in the Australian National University’s Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs. We also hope to explore some fruitful parallels between the Philippines and the current situation and future prospects in Iraq and Syria.

The actions of an individual attacker in a Philippines Casino on 2 June 2017 were immediately parsed for possible ‘terrorist’ motives and methodology. Dr Rood has joined others in discounting the connection between this attack and the so-called Islamic State. But this does raise the crucial analytical and political question of how we attribute behaviour to ideologies and institutional movements. The label terrorism does political work. It might justify the imposition of martial law as in Marawi, or the deployment of military rather than policing resources (as we have seen in Australia).

Moreover, Marawi also points to the complexity of factors involving political, social, and economic discontent, and the ongoing pull of violent Islamist ideology as a narrative of resistance. Local practices of clan politics, and specific failures in the policing and broader governance of the Philippines, can all be seen as contributing to societal violence. Yet the Islamic State brand now has transnational appeal, its erstwhile military successes and well-polished messaging perhaps making it the flag of choice for some would-be opposition movements – in the Philippines, in particular, those who have become disenchanted with the Bangsamoro narrative.

Post-conflict situations require massive programmes of rebuilding, both physical and social. However, this requirement arises precisely when infrastructures, capital, and human resources are stretched or non-existent, and in the context of potentially massive social dislocation. The Philippines and Iraq alike have faced these problems of reconstruction with questionable results.

Suggested readings:


Where and when?

11am-1230pm, Friday 11 August.

Unless otherwise advertised, Majlis sessions in 2017 generally take place on the first Friday of each month at 11am, and are held at the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (CAIS) at the ANU.

We welcome suggestions for topics that are of interest to participants. If you would like to suggest a topic, speaker, or make a presentation yourself, please contact us.


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