What is Duterte’s Strategy Toward the Abu Sayyaf?

In early September, the president vowed that he would “eat [the Abu Sayyaf] alive”.
by Joshua Kurlantzick
Having already launched a grim, brutal war on drugs that has reportedly led to thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of arrests, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is now turning his eye to southern Philippines, where a collection of insurgent groups/terrorist organizations/bandits have wreaked havoc for decades. (Southeast Asia is also now home to more piracy attacks than any other region of the world, and the waters of the southern Philippines are part of this massive piracy problem.)
In recent days, Duterte has, in his usual tough guy style, vowed to step up the government’s war against the Abu Sayyaf, which in the past year has allied itself with the Islamic State group, increased its number of kidnappings, and appeared bolder in its ability to stand toe-to-toe with Philippine army troops in gunfights in the deep south.
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