Some five months after Philippine troops flushed out Islamic State-aligned militants in the southern city of Marawi, recent military-militant clashes show the Islamic State's local affiliates have regrouped and spread since last year's siege, still gaining recruits and threatening once again to become a rallying point for jihadists across the region. But the persistent regional threat has spurred ASEAN countries towards greater security cooperation.
Having been asked by the Indonesian Foreign Ministry, via a local imam, to be the main speaker in the synagogue, I can report first hand on the thirst for knowledge on display.
None of the young Indonesians had ever met a Jewish person, nor even imagined being in a synagogue, let alone in a majestic, historic Jewish house of worship.
"This nation [Muslims] should know that it was [...] created to spread Allah's religion and lead the nations, and this could only be achieved by Jihad for the sake of Allah!"
These words were not said somewhere in the war ravaged Middle East by a supporter of ISIS or other extremist groups. They were not whispered in a dark room, hidden from public sight. This call for holy war, or jihad, was voiced loud and clear to a large crowd in a Sydney mosque just a few months ago.
Israel has long had deep links with some ASEAN member-states, while its relationship with others are more fragile or less developed.
On January 19, the Pentagon released its new National Defence Strategy for the US. The second paragraph of the 14-page declassified summary painted a dire picture. "We are facing increased global disorder, characterised by decline in the long-standing rules-based international order - creating a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory. Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in US national security."
Indonesian President Joko Widodo's protracted struggle with Islamist groups bent on opposing him in all things is set to continue as the 2019 presidential elections approach. Legislative and judicial changes indicate a pushback against the illiberal forces that have harassed ethnic and religious minorities... But doubts remain as to whether these changes will be enough to counter deeper cultural currents.
The 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper seeks to navigate Australia's great uncertainties and challenges in international relations - from China's rise to the perceived US retreat, regional interests, forces of protectionism and nationalism overseas, and the weakening of the international rules based order. Regarding areas of particular interest to AIJAC, the White Paper discusses issues including Australia's support for Israel and the two state outcome, multiculturalism, the Iran nuclear deal known as the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), the threat of Islamist terrorism and Australia's role at the United Nations.
A new book co-authored by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Samuel M. Katz reveals that Israeli security services have made attacking terror finance a major part of their counterterrorism efforts for more than 15 years under the codename "Operation Harpoon"...
The death in Marawi of the top two leaders of the Islamic State-aligned forces in Southeast Asia was a significant achievement for the Philippines military. However, few believe it will end Islamist terrorism in the southern Philippines and neighbouring regions, as the remnants of the Marawi campaign scatter to remote areas to reconvene and reorganise.