National Security College Policy Options Paper

Marawi and after: how Australia can help

By John Blaxland, Jacinta Carroll, Andrew Carr and Marty Harris

Key points:

  • The seizure of Marawi city by Daesh-linked militants is a game-changer for Southeast Asia, and presents a threat to all countries of the region.
  • Limiting the movement of money, technology, recruits and planning support to extremist groups in the southern Philippines will be crucial to ensure Daesh-aligned groups do not gain a further foothold, and increase the security threat to other regional states.
  • Daesh supporters escaping from Iraq and Syria could take on influential positions within Southeast Asia extremist groups, although numbers are likely to be small.
  • This is a regional problem, and closer regional cooperation on counter-terrorism will be required to reduce the threat that Marawi presents.
  • Whatever support Australia provides must be informed by regional sensibilities and calibrated to the needs of Manila and residents of the southern Philippines.

Policy recommendations:

  • Australia should seek to refocus and increase military education and training collaboration with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, with a focus on urban operations, civil-military relations and transition to peace.
  • Australia should continue to expand regional counter-terrorism cooperation, seeking to prevent the spread of emboldened Islamist terrorism beyond the southern Philippines and to limit the damage there.
  • Australia should focus its efforts in areas where it has distinct capabilities — such as on illicit financial transfers and the security of the maritime domain.

Photo: Mark Jhomel on flickr


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