Indonesia Must Learn From Duterte’s Example in Fighting Daesh Terrorism

This weekend three churches were targeted by suicide bombers in Indonesia’s Surabaya City in East Java. While the official death toll has not been released by local authorities, there are thought to have been multiple deaths. Daesh (aka ISIS) has now claimed responsibility for the multiple atrocities while it is thought that the Takfiri terrorist group of Daesh loyalists Jemaah Ansharut Daulau were directly responsible for the terrorist attacks. This followed a large scale prison riot in Depok where five Indonesian police officers were killed by Takfiri inspired criminals who rampaged inside the prison.

While the sociological dynamics in Indonesia are very different from the Philippines in the sense that Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim majority nation that is facing an intra-communal wave of violence while The Philippines is a majority Catholic nation where elements of Moro (Philippine Muslim) rebels in Mindanao have been infiltrated by Daesh loyalists, Indonesia can nevertheless learn from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent victory against the Daesh aligned Maute group.

In May of 2017, the Maute group laid siege to the southern Philippine city of Marawi. The terrorists killed civilians, took multiple hostages and desecrated churches during their occupation of the Marawi.  After declaring Martial law throughout Mindanao, by October of 2017, Marawi was fully liberated by Philippine troops.

Duterte’s post Battle of Marawi approach has been to keep Mindanao under Martial law so that the Daesh aligned Ansar Khalifa Philippines and the al-Qaeda aligned Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) will not be able to grow in numbers. At the same time, Duterte has taken historic steps to work with moderate Moro groups to bring about local autonomy for Moro communities in Mindanao either through the context of pan-Philippine federalism or otherwise, a new local autonomous political unit.

For Indonesia, the key to fighting terrorism will be to strengthen the hand of police and the military and insofar as this is necessary, Indonesia should consider a state of Martial Law in the way that Duterte has maintained one in Mindanao.

Those who seek to weaken not only Indonesia but ASEAN as a whole will try and discourage Indonesian President Joko Widodo from taking the tough stances of previous Indonesian leaders including the left-wing Sukarno and his right-wing successor and arch-rival Suharto. While Sukarno and Suharto were political enemies, one thing they had in common was the strong leadership necessary to ensure political strength in a vast geographically non-contiguous nation.

While the opposition Philippine Liberal Party objected to Duterte’s Martial Law in Mindanao, his move resulted in the rapid liberation of Marawi and has prevented further mass terrorist atrocities from springing up since October of 2017.

Now Indonesia must make the tough decisions Duterte made last year if they are to get the plague of terrorism under control before it is too late.

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