Over the past few years, terrorist activity has declined in Southeast Asia, including in both Malaysia and the Philippines. However, despite this decline, many of the same dynamics that have historically given rise to terrorism and violent extremism remain the same. What does this mean for the evolution of violent extremism and conflict in Southeast Asia?

As part of RESOLVE’s sixth annual Global Forum Series, the RESOLVE Network held a conversation about recent trends related to regional and local violent extremism and conflict in Southeast Asia. Focusing on Malaysia and the Philippines, this conversation brought together the experts behind two RESOLVE publications to explore historical ties, ongoing developments, cross-border dynamics and their implications for our understanding of current and future manifestations of violent extremism and conflict in the region. 

Stay tuned for more on the 2021-2022 RESOLVE Global Forum Series by following us on Twitter at @resolvenet and joining the conversation with #RESOLVEForum. Convened virtually, the Global Forum Series brings together leading experts and researchers for thought-provoking fireside conversations on evolving trends and dynamics in the violent extremist landscape. 

RESOLVE Network: Better Research. Informed Practice. Improved Policy on Violent Extremism.

Speakers

Dr. Alastair Reed, opening remarks
Senior Expert and Executive Director, RESOLVE Network, U.S. Institute of Peace

Brian Harding, opening remarks 
Senior Expert, Southeast Asia, U.S. Institute of Peace

Dr. Samuel D. Henkin 
Researcher, Geospatial Research Unit, START at University of Maryland

Joseph Franco
Research Fellow, Centre of Excellence for National Security, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies

Amina Rasul-Bernardo 
President, Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy 

Dr. Haroro Ingram, moderator
Fellow, Mindanao State University (Marawi) and Senior Research Fellow with the Program on Extremism at GWU

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From its experience of centuries-long colonization to dealing with decades-long Cold War politics, Malaysia is no stranger to navigating major power competition, which it sees as a recurring reality in international politics. Today’s U.S.-China rivalry is just the latest round — it is not the first and it will not be the last. Still, it is important to consider how U.S.-China competition impacts Malaysia and how it, like other small and secondary states in the region, seeks to exercise agency. Even as this major power rivalry intensifies and limits the country’s space for maneuvering, Malaysia insists on employing “equidistant diplomacy” to hedge against multiple risks and cultivate long-term options.

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