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Politics

Mindanao conflict pushing Duterte back into US orbit

ISIS threat alters Philippine president's foreign policy calculus

| Philippines

As Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte enters his second year in office, he is confronting his greatest political challenge. For the past month, a legion of Islamic State-affiliated fighters, under the command of the Maute Group, have stubbornly held onto several barangays (neighborhoods) in Marawi, a provincial capital on the southern island of Mindanao and the country's largest Muslim-majority city.

The brazen assault on the city, which has forced more than 200,000 people to flee for safety and claimed the lives of close to 400 individuals, marks the first attempt by an IS regional affiliate to control a large urban territory. The ultimate goal is to establish a distant caliphate, or a so-called Daulah Islamiya Wilayatul Mashriq ("Islamic State province in the Orient").

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