QUEZON CITY (MindaNews / 12 September) –Watching the information about remembrance ceremonies of 9/11 made me keep in mind the affect of that day on me, personally.
Someday in 2000, I used to be in Washington DC for a convention and determined to satisfy analysis administrators of suppose tanks for my very own research on ethnic battle. I visited a number of, together with the Brookings Establishment and america Institute for Peace (USIP). Though established and funded by Congress, USIP is an unbiased, nonpartisan establishment. “Its targets are to assist stop and resolve violent worldwide conflicts, promote post-conflict stability and improvement, and enhance battle administration capability, instruments, and mental capital worldwide.”
The analysis director I met in USIP was very taken with my proposed research on the ethnic battle between the Bangsamoro and authorities. He advised that maybe I ought to contemplate a fellowship with the Institute. If the Board permitted of my analysis proposal, I might be in residence in DC for ten months to do my research. If my analysis resulted in a publishable manuscript, the USIP would publish it.
What an excellent thought, thought I. I wrote up my analysis proposal, despatched it to the USIP, and went dwelling to the Philippines. My matter? Federalism as a political answer to the ethnic battle in Mindanao. Months later, USIP provided me a “Jennings Randolph Program for Worldwide Peace award,” which was given to eight to10 Senior Fellows annually “in order that excellent students, practitioners, policymakers, journalists, and different professionals can conduct analysis on peace, battle and worldwide safety”. How might I refuse?
My fellowship was for September 2001 to June 2002. Thus, I used to be in DC on that fateful day, 9/11. Glued to the TV, I watched – over and over – the passenger planes crash into the World Commerce Heart and the Pentagon. With horror and a way of foreboding, I watched information anchors and analysts determine the Al Qaeda because the perpetrators.
Over the approaching days and weeks, I witnessed the concern increase inside American society: concern of Muslims. How might anybody assault the citadels of the one superpower on the earth? The warfare on terror obsessed the US authorities, trying to find non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The Bush administration’s single-minded give attention to rooting out the Al-Qaeda turned to South East Asia. “Balikatan“ (shoulder-to-shoulder), a longstanding bilateral train highlighting the partnership between the Philippines and america, was crafted because the US-RP cooperation to coach our navy in counterterrorism.
Nervous about US coverage in direction of Muslim Mindanao, I modified gear. Aghast on the lack of expertise amongst coveragemakers on the subject of the Philippines, I sought to coach any and all who would hearken to me in regards to the realities of the battle in Mindanao. As a substitute of doing my unique analysis, I spent my time with conferences and briefings on the GRP-MILF (Authorities of the Republic of the Philippines – Moro Islamic Liberation Entrance). battle. I set conferences with the US Congress, with the State Division and Protection officers, with suppose tanks like Rand Company and the Heart for Strategic and Worldwide Research. I needed to stress that it was a nationwide downside, an ethnic battle, not in any means related to the Al Qaeda warfare on the West. That any US try and intervene, as they’d finished in Afghanistan and Iraq, would convey them to a slippery slope that would finish in one other Vietnam.
The President of USIP, Richard Solomon, former Ambassador to the Philippines, was very supportive of my efforts. The USIP helped me open doorways and supported my roundtables on Mindanao and Islam: a video-conference with newly elected ARMM (Autonomous Area in Muslim Mindanao) governor Parouk Hussin and the late Protection Secretary Angelo Reyes, a roundtable with the late Senator Nene Pimentel, a panel on Muslim girls. The USIP even organized for me to be interviewed on CNN and different networks to elucidate the battle between the MILF and the federal government. Not as soon as did the USIP officers intrude in my mission to coach Washington DC about Mindanao.
Returning dwelling in 2002 after my fellowship, I organized for USIP consultants on battle decision, peace schooling and on faith and peacemaking to come back to the Philippines and share their information with authorities, civil society and the academe. Their workshops, held on the Asian Institute of Administration in cooperation with the Sycip Coverage Heart, have been extremely appreciated by contributors.
The USIP put collectively a staff of consultants that might supply help for the GRP-MILF peace course of – the Philippine Facilitation Undertaking. It appears the late Ustadz Salamat Hashim, founding father of the MILF, suspicious of the Philippine authorities, initiated the transfer by writing President George W. Bush to assist in the peace course of (January 2003). Then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, throughout her 2003 state go to, additionally requested President Bush for help within the peace course of, if the Malaysians agreed.
Why the USIP? The US Ambassador to the Philippines on the time, Frank Ricciardone Jr., knew Dick Solomon properly, and possibly reached out to USIP. Sadly, the USIP participation was on the margins (coaching workshops, conferences). The Malaysian authorities had been facilitating the peace talks for a few years by 2003 and didn’t relish the entry of america. Thus, the doorways to the negotiating room have been closed to the USIP. Because the USIP didn’t have an actual function within the peace talks, the State Division lastly pulled the plug and discontinued funding the USIP Philippine Facilitation Undertaking.
In 2004, Cotabato lawyer Benedicto Bacani, who headed the Notre Dame College’s Peace Heart, joined the USIP as Senior Fellow. My pal Benny turned the USIP’s contact individual in Mindanao. By that point, I used to be not concerned in any of the USIP actions.
One fateful day – and the ripples proceed on and on.
(MindaViews is the opinion part of MindaNews. Amina Rasul is the President of the Philippine Heart for Islam and Democracy, an advocate for Mindanao and the Bangsamoro, peace, human rights, and democracy)