Libmonster ID: IN-1362
Author(s) of the publication: L. VORONOVA

The problem of terrorism is well known to the ASEAN countries. Although statistics show that South-East Asia (SE) is not the main center of terrorist activity (in the period from 1984 to 1996, 186 acts of terrorism were recorded in the region; for comparison, in Western Europe in the same years, 2073 cases of terrorist activity were recorded, in Latin America - 1621, in the United States). Africa-362), some of the "top ten" countries directly face its manifestations.

This problem is perhaps most acute in the Philippines, where several terrorist organizations operate. The most famous militant group is Abu Sayaf, which has declared the formation of an independent Islamic state as its goal, but is actually engaged in banditry and kidnapping. More than a dozen prisoners, including foreign tourists and Filipino citizens, were beheaded after they failed to get a ransom. One hostage, a US citizen, was killed in the summer of this year during the Philippine-American operation to free him.

The existence of a link between Abu Sayaf and the Al-Qaeda terrorist network, which has infiltrated the Philippine militant groups with its instructors, has already been proven. Some members of the Abu Sayyaf ,which according to Philippine official sources has about 1,200 members, were trained and fought in Afghanistan on the side of the Taliban.

To a lesser extent, but quite significantly, terrorism manifests itself in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. In 2000, for the first time in the country's history, a series of terrorist attacks involving civilian casualties rocked the capital of Laos, Vientiane.

Recently, the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist organization's regional-wide safe houses were uncovered in Singapore and Malaysia. According to experts, this group is also most directly linked to Al-Qaeda, which intends to shift the center of gravity of its activities to Southeast Asia. According to some sources, Jemaah Islamiyah has received about $ 230 million from al-Qaeda over the past four years. The clear influence of Osama bin Laden can also be traced in the anti-American and anti-Israeli rhetoric of the members of Jemaah Islamiyah.

All ten Southeast Asian countries officially condemned the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on September 11 last year and expressed their condolences to the United States on this occasion. Such unanimous condemnation of terrorist attacks on the United States, even by the Muslim community of the region, is explained, in particular,by the fact that the Taliban were not recognized by any of the regional states. The archaic and largely distorted version of Islam propagated by the Taliban movement was rejected by the much more moderate Muslims of Southeast Asia.

At the same time, the reaction of the ASEAN countries to the anti-terrorist operation launched by the Bush administration in Afghanistan is far from straightforward. Members of the Association hold different, sometimes diametrically opposed, points of view on Washington's actions in Afghanistan.

For example, countries with a predominantly Muslim population reacted negatively to missile and bomb attacks on the Taliban. Malaysia has particularly strongly condemned them. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that the result of US strikes in Afghanistan will inevitably be the death of innocent civilians and that even if the war in Afghanistan is crowned with success, the more important global battle against terrorism will continue.-

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the ma will be lost. The Indonesian leadership expressed regret, while Brunei expressed concern about both the terrorist act and the outbreak of military operations against Afghanistan.

In general, the reaction of the northern part of ASEAN - Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, which are allergic to any US military actions since the Indochina War-was also negative, although cautious. This was shown by the meeting of the Prime Ministers of the Indochina Troika held in Ho Chi Minh City at the end of January 2002.

At the same time, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines strongly supported the actions of the Americans. In particular, Singapore declared Washington's right to self-defense and strike outside the United States.

At the summit held in Brunei on November 6, 2001, the ASEAN member states made considerable efforts to cover up their differences slightly and adopted a joint document on international terrorism. It unequivocally and strongly condemned the September 11 attacks. Terrorism "in all its forms and manifestations, regardless of where, when and by whom the attacks were committed," was qualified as a threat to international peace and security, requiring joint actions to protect and defend all peoples. However, there is no mention of support for the US stock in the document.

This is the result of the efforts of Malaysia and Indonesia, which blocked the expression of direct support for the anti-terrorist operation, as Singapore and the Philippines insisted. In turn, the latter rejected attempts by Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta to register in the Declaration concern about the death of civilians in Afghanistan and reference to the oppression of the peoples of Palestine and Iraq as one of the main causes of terrorism.

As a result, the document turned out to be quite amorphous. The Declaration calls for strengthening regional cooperation in countering terrorism on the basis of existing bilateral agreements. It is recommended to strengthen national mechanisms, intensify intelligence sharing, accelerate adherence to relevant international conventions, establish a group of experts and hold a special ministerial meeting on cross-border crime, which, as announced, will be a step in implementing the UN call for better coordination of national, sub-regional and international efforts in response to this challenge and threat to international security.

The initiatives of Indonesia and the Philippines on counterterrorism issues, including the development of a regional convention, the holding of a multilateral seminar, and others, have not been significantly developed.

In Brunei, the idea of Jakarta, which was not reflected in the Declaration, to form a structure for combating terrorism and cross-border crime consisting of 5 founding members of ASEAN (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines) was approved. It is assumed that this will form the backbone of the future structure, open to other members of the Association.

Based on the mandate received, the Filipinos prepared a draft document on the exchange of information and the procedure for establishing the commission. It provides for practical steps to establish cooperation between the five countries in such areas as combating terrorism, piracy, drug trafficking, laundering of illegally obtained income, illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, abductions and trafficking in women and children.

While calling for strengthening cooperation in the fight against international terrorism at the bilateral, regional and international levels, the ASEAN leaders emphasized that the main role in this matter at the international level should belong to the United Nations.

Currently, the Association is considering the possibility of forming a regional dialogue mechanism on terrorism on the basis of the annual meeting of Interior Ministers of the Association on Cross-Border Crime. Participation in this mechanism is still limited to the" troika " Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines. Brunei and Thailand have requested observer status, while Singapore, which is not comfortable with certain restrictions on banking and financial activities resulting from such cooperation, is trying to keep its distance altogether.

The prospects for establishing regional anti-terrorist cooperation are now rather vague, and the Muslim community of Southeast Asia is wary. This, in particular, was evidenced by the sharply negative reaction of Indonesian Islamists to the statement of official Jakarta about its readiness to send a military contingent to Afghanistan. The authorities, in fact, had to justify themselves, explaining that they only had in mind the possibility of participating in a UN peacekeeping operation.

Mixed assessments are caused by the decision of the Philippine authorities to enter the country under the guise of "instructors" in fact the American military contingent. Many ASEAN members explicitly state that the United States is essentially launching a new anti-terrorist operation, this time in Southeast Asia, while ignoring the interests and concerns of most of the region's states.

There was also a cautious response in the ASEAN countries to the statement of J. P. Morgan. President George W. Bush described Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an "axis of evil" and hinted at a possible continuation of counterterrorism strikes outside Afghanistan. According to Malaysians in particular, it is impossible to fight terrorism exclusively by military means. The results of the anti - terrorist operation in Afghanistan are a clear proof of this. Victory over the Taliban, they say, does not mean the defeat of the terrorists: Al-Qaeda is not defeated, Osama bin Laden is not captured. Any military action against a Muslim country must correspond to political and socio-economic measures designed to convince the Islamic world that this is not a war against Islam. In this context, it is important, as some ASEAN members say, for the United States to help resolve the Middle East conflict and restore Afghanistan as soon as possible.

One of the consequences of the fight against international terrorism in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and even Brunei may be the radicalization of Islamic political forces, increasing their pressure on governments and demands to take a stronger position of solidarity with the Muslims of Afghanistan and other countries. Under these conditions, it is possible to aggravate the contradictions in ASEAN, a certain separation between the Islamic states and the other members of the Association. The development of events in this scenario is fraught with destabilization in Southeast Asia.


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L. VORONOVA, ASEAN: FRAGILE UNITY FRAUGHT WITH DISCORD. ON THE ASEAN COUNTRIES ' APPROACH TO THE PROBLEM OF INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM AND THE SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN // Delhi: India (ELIB.ORG.IN). Updated: 22.06.2024. URL: https://elib.org.in/m/articles/view/ASEAN-FRAGILE-UNITY-FRAUGHT-WITH-DISCORD-ON-THE-ASEAN-COUNTRIES-APPROACH-TO-THE-PROBLEM-OF-INTERNATIONAL-TERRORISM-AND-THE-SITUATION-IN-AFGHANISTAN (date of access: 21.07.2024).

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