[av_one_full first min_height=” vertical_alignment=” space=” custom_margin=” margin=’0px’ padding=’0px’ border=” border_color=” radius=’0px’ background_color=” src=” background_position=’top left’ background_repeat=’no-repeat’ animation=”]

[av_heading heading=’INTERNATIONAL ILONGGO | Non-state warfare ‘ tag=’h3′ style=’blockquote modern-quote’ size=” subheading_active=’subheading_below’ subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=” custom_font=”]

[av_textblock size=” font_color=” color=”]
Sunday, June 18, 2017

[av_textblock size=” font_color=” color=”]



THE ONGOING warfare in Mindanao is a good example of a conflict between state and non-state actors. When people think of war, they usually think of two separate governments fighting over territory, resources or national interests.

This is not the case in Marawi. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is fighting a force whose strategy is to undermine state power via chaos and exhaustion, as opposed to taking and holding territory, which is what conventional armies are supposed to do.  

This strategy is similar to traditional raiding tactics before the rise of mass warfare, wherein a small group of men weaken the periphery, so as to create a space or vacuum where they could move in and take power or at least project influence.

Imagine, if you will, a group of pre-colonial mangangayaw raiders constantly attacking a kingdom’s outlying villages with the goal of exhausting its border defenses. Such a situation is comparable to what is happening in Marawi now.

Non-state actors operate according to the rules of asymmetric warfare. Their goal is to weaken the state at the margins and to exploit areas where the state is either vulnerable, weak or in retreat.

ISIS and other groups like them are not formally affiliated with any particular state or recognized political group. Instead, they are an amorphous network bound together by a common identity, ideology and a mixture thereof.

Such groups may or may not receive support from state and non-state actors, but ultimately, they operate according to their own rules, which is why they are associated with terrorism. Terrorists don’t play by the rules.

It’s worth mentioning, however, that non-state warfare is not new in the Philippines. We have more or less seen it before in the form of Maoist insurgencies. What makes the situation in Marawi different is that it has a foreign component.

The foreign fighters involved in the fighting in Marawi are essentially a foreign army, but unlike most foreign armies, they have no state for the Philippine government to retaliate against.

It’s no coincidence that an attack of this scale can only be launched in an area (Marawi) where government control is relatively weak. We see the same pattern in Syria, Afghanistan and Islamized communities in Europe. These are spaces where non-state actors thrive, and the foreign fighters in Marawi are trying to replicate the same pattern here by disrupting government control in that part of the country.

What Filipinos need to understand about the ongoing conflict in Marawi is that it is a symptom of a global phenomenon: The weakening of the nation-state model.

We all enjoy talking about globalization and the rewards of having no borders. Well, non-state actors are a product of this very same globalization. Yes, there’s more to ISIS and terrorist networks than their internationalist characteristics, but it’s important to remember that ISIS fighters are essentially an international force, and they were able to attack us by exploiting the very openness of the world we live in./PN




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here