End the war soon

The fighting in Marawi City is going to end soon, God willing! There is no doubt about that. The Maute group cannot hold on any longer. Exhaustion, dwindling supplies of ammunition and food, and unmatched government air and artillery superiority, as well as the steady flow of military reinforcements will prove decisive in determining the outcome of the fighting.

However, the government has to exercise caution. Forcing this war to conclude prematurely can prove very costly. As of this writing, the government had already suffered 82 dead in combat and scores of others wounded. Better for government to get it precise and calculating. On the flipside, however, not ending it soon especially when all the signs are leading to it, can boomerang to the credibility of government. It might be interpreted as not minding at all the safety and interests of the civilians who are still suffering in evacuation centers.

To our mind, the best option for government is to end the fighting naturally; meaning, if it can be won any time from now, end it.

Meantime, we are perplexed by the way the Maute group fights their war. We do not understand where they learned their tactic in fighting the government head-on. Defying the logic of war that a weak party can only fight a strong party through a highly mobile warfare will be an irreparable mistake. If the MILF has managed to stay alive and kicking to this day, it is because of the early realization that a weak party can never fight a stronger party effectively, except by using various guerrilla warfare including psychological war operation.

Without doubt, we can only surmise the reason for this. Perhaps, their apparent wish or love for martyrdom disallows them to make good use of such advantage. It is their belief or obsession that martyrdom brings them direct to heaven.

Unlike the MILF and MNLF, the Maute group has no political agenda. Building a caliphate is more in the mind rather an immediate possibility. The ISIS are losing the battles in Iraq and Syria; they are on the run. Add the reported death of Abubakre al-Baghdadi, head of the ISIS. Where is the immediate possibility of that?

In addition, while the MILF and MNLF had their battle cry “victory or martyrdom” reverberated for decades, the Maute group, on the reverse side, reportedly seeks “martyrdom” only as their motivation. This perhaps explained their almost stationary style of fighting especially during the early part of the siege of Marawi City.  

Clearly, the MILF and MNLF have a political agenda, which is to establish a political entity that naturally comes with victory. Victory is for all, while martyrdom is the consequence of being in war.

Not only in battle tactics and strategies that the MILF and Maute group differ, but also on ideological and religious issues. For this reason, the Bangsamoro mufti, Sheikh Abehuraira Abdulrahman Udasan, is coming out soon with a fatwa or “ruling”, which is an Arabic term, which literally means an “opinion”.

However, in its religious context, the word carries more meaning. This is because when a Muslim has a question that they need to be answered from an Islamic point of view, they ask an Islamic scholar this question, and the answer is known as a "fatwa". This "fatwa" carries more weight than just the random opinion of any person on the street. Muslim scholars are expected to give their "fatwa" based on religious evidence, not based on their personal opinions.