Bottom Line Up Front Given its history, geography and demographics, Southeast Asia has proven to be hospitable terrain for myriad terrorist and insurgent groups. A recent attack against a church in Jolo in the southern Philippines highlights the enduring nature of the threat posed by jihadist militancy. Indonesia, the ...

Indonesia was hit by a series of deadly bombings this past May.  The attacks targeted churches and were carried out by families with young children, including a family of six in Surbaya, Indonesia’s second largest city.   Indonesian police say an attack at police headquarters the following morning was carried out ...

President Donald Trump leaves Friday for a nine-day trip to Asia, a continent that has stayed relatively free of the populism that has washed over the United States and Europe. But populist sentiment could catch fire, especially in Southeast Asia, given historic anti-democratic undertones, and trigger regional instability. Regional security ...

After months of battling ISIS-linked militants in the Philippine city of Marawi, Philippine forces are on the cusp of wrestling control of the last ISIS holdouts away from the militant group. However, while the fight for Marawi may be reaching its conclusion, conditions across southeast Asia appear ripe for an ...

Philippine security forces, with timely international military and intelligence assistance, successfully contained, isolated, and eliminated the threat posed by the Islamic State (ISIS) in Marawi. Nearly 700 Filipino and foreign fighters that embraced ISIS ideology and practice have been killed by government and coalition forces in four months of intense ...

Now into its fourth month, fighting between Philippine forces and pro-ISIS militants in the Philippine island of Mindanao has nearly subsided, with only a handful of terrorists continuing to hold pockets in the city of Marawi. But despite this apparent victory, questions linger over the broader extremist threat facing the ...

Following the recent liberation of Mosul and Raqqa under siege, the so-called Islamic State is slowly collapsing inwards. As it does, the prospect of battle hardened foreign fighters returning to their countries of origin are a concern for governments around the world. For governments in Southeast Asia, the concern is ...

As the Islamic State diminishes in Iraq and Syria, experts have warned that returning fighters could reorganize and carry out attacks in their home countries. In Southeast Asia, this fear is greatest in Indonesia and the Philippines. However, the greater threat may be the spread of ISIS’ ideology, methods, and ...

Just days before Indonesia’s Independence Day celebration, Indonesian police foiled a chemical bomb attack on Tuesday that targeted the presidential palace in Jakarta. They arrested five suspects belonging to Jemaah Ansharut Daulah, an Indonesian Islamist terror organization with ties to ISIS that is responsible for several recent attacks against Indonesian ...

Last week, General Eduardo Ano, the Philippines Chief of Staff, said he hoped that the city of Marawi would be liberated from Islamist militants before June 12, the country’s Independence Day. The deadline has come and gone, but the fighting continues. Islamist militants still hold about a fifth of the ...

While Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte remains at odds with the United States, the armed forces of the two countries have maintained a close working relationship that dates to 1951 and the signing of a mutual defense treaty. In recent years the primary mission of U.S. forces in the Philippines has ...

As a Catholic-majority nation with a large Muslim minority in the southern islands, the Philippines has struggled with religious strife for decades. While extremist violence is not a new phenomenon, ISIS’ powerful message calling for global jihad has galvanized cooperation among extremist groups and attracted foreign militants to fight in ...

Southeast Asia is emerging as an ISIS battlefield, and security threats in the region will accelerate and grow with the group’s global expansion – with an ISIS-centric threat landscape supplanting an al Qaeda-centric one. ISIS and al Qaeda groups, networks, and cells will threaten governments and societies in 2017, but ...

With a familiar turn of phrase that still finds the world collectively raising its eyebrow, Rodrigo Duterte has added to his list of people and organizations that he feels should “go to hell.” The latest to earn this distinction is the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is ...

In the span of six months, the U.S.-Philippines relationship has gone from a 25-year highpoint to a period of worrisome uncertainty. At the center of this shift is President Rodrigo Duterte, whose frequent anti-U.S. rhetoric and desire to shift his country’s foreign policy course signal that the U.S.-Philippines relationship will ...

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte rattled decades of foreign policy on October 20 with his announcement of a military and economic “separation” from the United States. The declaration came in Beijing amid a Philippine pivot away from the long-standing relationship with the United States and toward China, with whom Duterte said ...

“You destroy my country, I'll kill you,” Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte warned in a recent exclusive interview with Al Jazeera. His warning was directed at the drug dealers and users that he believes are tearing the Philippines apart. This is the sort of outspoken, uncompromising language we have come to ...

Since becoming President in June, Rodrigo Duterte has used his forceful personality to take Filipino policy in new directions. For Western allies like the U.S., this has led to confusing public statements that have forced them to question the strength of their partnerships. The Cipher Brief spoke with political scientist ...

President Rodrigo Duterte’s first hundred days will be some of the most critical for his vision of radical change. Over that period, Duterte demonstrated strong resolve over his priorities, with a highly publicized peace and order campaign at the top of his agenda. The shift to a federal-parliamentary form of ...

Although the United States participated in the negotiations that culminated in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which came into force in 1994, it has not yet ratified the treaty. While it is true that the U.S. recognizes UNCLOS as a codification of customary international ...

Now that the Permanent Court of Arbitration has ruled in favor of the Philippines in its case against China over sovereignty in the South China Sea, Manila should immediately set the tone of what is to follow. In the days ahead, the country should continue to advocate that all states, ...

With a ruling imminent in the arbitration case initiated by the Philippines against China over claims in the South China Sea, officials around Asia are bracing for the results, while analysts are busy handicapping the potential fallout. As I wait for the verdict, I prefer to abide by Yogi Berra’s ...

As the deadline for the landmark international court ruling on the South China Sea territorial dispute draws near, a recent editorial in a Chinese state run newspaper proclaimed that China should prepare for “military confrontation” in the South China Sea. While the foreign ministry was quick to reiterate China’s commitment ...

Predictions are a tricky business, especially with something as complicated as the outcome of Manila’s arbitration case against Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea. A tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, will rule on the case on July 12. Given the complexity of the ...

On May 9, the Filipino nation chose “Tunay na Pagbabago” or radical change. Rodrigo Duterte, the pugnacious Mayor of Davao City, was elected as the incoming president, who will steer the course of the country’s defense and security, national governance, and foreign relations for the next six years. His impending ...

Foul-mouthed strongman, Rodrigo Duterte, declared victory in the Philippines’s presidential election this week after one of his rivals, Grace Poe, conceded to his insurmountable lead.  In the Philippines, his tough-on-crime platform has earned him the nickname “Duterte Harry” – a reference to Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry.” But Americans know him ...

Beijing’s “Great Wall of Sand” in the South China Sea is likely to expand: a recent report in the South China Morning Post unveiled China’s intention to turn Scarborough Shoal into another island military base. Observations by U.S. Navy vessels suggest China has been conducting survey work around the shoal, ...

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced a “…regular periodic presence [in the Philippines] of American forces,” something that has not occurred since the Philippines voted to expel U.S. forces in 1991. The announcement in Manila is an important milestone in the resurrection of one of the U.S.’s ...

Over the past decade, the Philippines has gradually shifted from an equi-balancing strategy vis-à-vis the United States and China in favor of a more explicit tilt into the American strategic orbit. Bilateral relations with America have been rapidly blossoming, while Sino-Philippine relations have wilted. Today, the Philippines is among the ...

The newly reinvigorated U.S. – Philippines alliance has assumed a central role in the developing regional strategic competition with China. Less than 25 years ago, the U.S. – Philippine alliance was moribund, with both sides paying no more than lip service to the notion of mutual defense. That era gave ...