09 March 2018
With its battle space shrinking in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is expanding worldwide, including to South-east Asia. Against the backdrop of the rising terrorist threat, Singapore as chair of ASEAN will host a series of meetings to discuss the renewed threat and enhance the region’s counter-terrorism cooperation to tackle it.
The ASEAN defence ministers who had met earlier – at the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) retreat in Singapore on Feb 6 – identified terrorism as the single biggest threat to the region, even as they recognised several other regional security challenges, ranging from the troubled South China Sea to the North Korea issue.
It is thus useful that Singapore, as ADMM chair this year, proposed concrete initiatives – the establishment of a virtual Asean network of chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) defence experts, and an information-sharing workshop among ASEAN armies this year. The CBR network will improve the region’s ability to respond to such threats and help CBR defence experts to build up ways to share information and best practices and establish quick contact in crises.
Unless the guardians of security in the region move from counter-terrorism cooperation to collaboration, the threat of ideological extremism and its operational manifestations – insurgency and terrorism – will persist.
Given these developments, the meetings in Singapore among the defence, intelligence and operations chiefs of the armed forces of South-east Asia are an opportunity for them to reaffirm the Asean militaries’ role and commitment to strengthening practical cooperation on counter-terrorism, and cannot be more timely.
… Rohan Gunaratna is head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research and professor of security studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
GPO / ICPVTR / Online / Print
Last updated on 12/03/2018