Filipino and Fijian Peacekeepers Trapped and Captured in Syria

APAC peacekeepers are captured in Syria, IS spreads to Southeast Asia, and Kissiner ponders order. Weekend links.

Filipino and Fijian Peacekeepers Trapped and Captured in Syria
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A few defense and security links to wrap up the week:

Earlier this week, anti-government forces in Syria captured and detained 43 U.N. peacekeepers in the Israel-occupied Golan Heights. 81 other U.N. peacekeepers were trapped in a nearby area. The U.N. is currently negotiating the release of the peacekeepers who are from the Philippines and Fiji. Asia-Pacific states make a significant contribution to the total U.N peacekeeping troop force, which stands at over 80,000 troops worldwide. The Philippines has 622 serving troops in the U.N. as of July 2014, and Fiji has 671 serving troops as of July 2014. The Fijian peacekeepers are being held hostage by the Islamist militants. The militants have demanded that the Filipino troops surrender their weapons. Several U.N. members with peacekeeping forces deployed in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Syria have recalled their troops owing to the deteriorating security situation. However, despite his country’s troops being held hostage currently, Fijian Army commander Brigadier-General Mosese Tikoitoga is calling for an increase in the number of Fijian troops in Syria:  “We will not make any recommendations of pulling out from the U.N. or any other engagement, because our contribution to U.N. peacekeeping – if we don’t want to do this, then who else in the world would want to do this?”

Over at The National Interest, Hannah Suh examines the growing influence of the Islamic State (IS) across the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in Indonesia. Southeast Asia is home to 62 percent of the global Muslim population and Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country. With the IS’ rise in Iraq and calls for a global caliphate, the prospect of a resurgence in jihadism in Southeast Asia may be high. If nothing else, Suh’s piece reinforces the idea that the “global” war on terror may once again merit that adjective.

U.S. foreign policy and grand strategic Henry Kissinger writes in the Wall Street Journal: “The concept of order that has underpinned the modern era is in crisis.” He asks the United States to answer a few important questions about its foreign policy vision: “What do we seek to prevent, no matter how it happens, and if necessary alone? What do we seek to achieve, even if not supported by any multilateral effort? What do we seek to achieve, or prevent, only if supported by an alliance? What should we not engage in, even if urged on by a multilateral group or an alliance? What is the nature of the values that we seek to advance? And how much does the application of these values depend on circumstance?”

Russia will supply India with A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft. According to Defense News, the two countries will sign a contract soon.