The US’s anti-terror operation is gaining more force. Afghanistan is unlikely to remain the only target in the operation. In any case, the USA shows close attention in all more or less known extremist Muslim organizations. Philippine’s group Abu Sayyaf is among them. Information about its connection with Usama bin Laden and Al Qaeda has been already published several times. Abu Sayyaf fights for separation of Philippines from the Muslim south of the country. The organization’s militants are often mentioned in connection with capture of hostages, including foreign ones. There are several hostages, including two Americans, in the hands of Abu Sayyaf as of now.
The New York Times reports, over 600 American servicemen (including 150 soldiers of the teams special) are to arrive to Mindanao island, that is close to Basilan island, where Abu Sayyaf central base is stationed. Firstly the Americans will instruct their colleagues in Philippines how to struggle against terrorism. For this purpose the Philippine army has provided 1,200 military men, generals to be in command of a joint military contingent have been already appointed. They are Emmanuel Teodosio from Philippines and American Donald Wurster. Defense Secretary of Philippines Angelo Reyes told, the Americans would not participate in the military operations against Abu Sayyaf, but will be provided with arms for self-defense. In his words, the training program in Philippines is designed for six months.
So, the USA is expanding the sphere of its activity. And this is what was to have been expected long ago. But it is interesting, to what extent Americans are to be active and whether the USA will participate in the military operations in Philippines. It is more likely, there will be no large-scale bombing in the case. This is because an American-loyal regime is in power there. And moreover, the regime has been fighting against Abu Sayyaf for a long period already. No considerable success has been achieved so far, but still. At the same time, there are no guarantees that after the US’s training the Philippine army will considerably advance in the struggle. Will the USA then send its servicemen to the jungle of Basilan island or merely supply military technique and equipment there ? The USA is unlikely to go beyond presence of its instructors of the territory of Philippines.
There is an opinion, Iraq is to become another target of the USA, because the USA has more claims to Iraq than to Abu Sayyaf.
It is interesting, how the Muslims of neighboring Indonesia will react to the US’s interference in the struggle against Abu Sayyaf. Indonesia’s reaction to the bombing of Afghanistan was rather fierce. The interference may lead to escalation of violence in the region.
Certainly, the struggle with terrorism is a number one objective of the US administration now. But America’s presence almost in every country of the world will hardly speed up settlement of the problem.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/01/16/35622.html