Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines join forces to safeguard Sulu Sea

Lester Mason
October 13, 2017

The joint air patrols complete the trilateral military collaboration in the Sulu Sea following the launch of the Trilateral Maritime Patrols between the navies of the three nations in the Tarakan Islands in Indonesia in April.

Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia's defense minister, said the initiative is aimed at countering movement of violent extremists and terrorists across borders of the three nations, as the Sulu Sea has been used by terrorist organizations as a base of operations.

Indonesian Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said the country has received requests from the United States, China and Australia to join the patrols but that it would discuss this with Asean members first.

Mr Ryamizard said Indonesia also plans to propose an intelligence-sharing initiative among Asean members to deal with the threat of radical militants.

"We can not refute the fact that the coalition's successes against Daesh militants in the Middle East have led to the return of foreign fighters to our region", he said.

Mr Lorenzana added that ISIS fighters in Marawi have dwindled to a small group.

Hishammuddin said although the amount of global trade passing through the Sulu Seas is significantly lower than the amount passing the Straits of Malacca, it is nonetheless substantial to secure the sea waters as about US$40 billion worth of goods transit the waters annually.

"The joint trilateral patrols will continue for as long as it takes. With the successful implementation of the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement, we can prove to the world that this is the way forward", he said.

"Regional security cooperation plays a vital role in upholding the region's security order".

Major power involvement in such indigenous, minilateral security initiatives, including this one, is nothing new, as I've repeatedly written (See: "Confronting Threats in the Sulu-Sulawesi Seas: Opportunities and Challenges"). "In fact, we've not had any incidents of piracy, kidnappings in the maritime areas of concern between the three countries", said Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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