Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Duterte Playing High Stakes Poker at the Big Boy's Table

rehmat1 |  On Monday, Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte offended the Israeli colony (United States) by calling for the withdrawal of American Special Forces in the South Philippines. These American force has been training Philippine soldiers to use US supplied military hardware against Muslim separatists in the Mindanao and other Muslim majority islands.
“They have to go,” Duterte said in a speech during an oath-taking ceremony for new officials. “I do not want a rift with America. But they have to go.”

Speaking at an event being held in honor of the Islamic day of Eid’l Fit’r in Davao City in July 2016, Duterte challenged the narrative that the Middle East is the root of terrorism. It is not that the Middle East is exporting terrorism to America; America imported terrorism (to the Middle East), he said.

rappler |  The Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) was a contingent of US troops, including Special Forces, that was set up to fight terrorism in the Philippines in 2002.

But it was deactivated in February 2015. Its mission was "to advise and assist Philippine security forces at the tactical, operational and strategic levels against violent extremist organizations throughout the southern Philippines," according to the US embassy.

A small group of US soldiers have stayed in the Philippines to help the Philippine military and police in their operations against the Abu Sayyaf and terrorists. Some of them, for example, had helped gather intelligence that led to the Mamasapano operation in 2015 against alleged Malaysian bomb-maker Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, according to high-level government sources. The operation killed Marwan and 44 elite cops.

The US troops have a rotating presence in the region as part of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) which the Philippine government signed with the US government.
Duterte previously said he would implement the EDCA after the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality.

'It will get more tense'
Duterte also seemed to say that the presence of American soldiers in Mindanao would make the situation there more tense. Though no American soldier has been held captive by the Abu Sayyaf, Duterte seemed to say American soldiers would be prime hostage targets for the terrorist group.

"Mas lalong iinit. Pag makakita ng Amerikano, papatayin talaga 'yan. Kukuha ng ransom, papatayin. Even if you're black or white American, basta Amerikano," said Duterte.