Sunday, October 19, 2008

What might start the next war in Southeast Asia

This piece, which isn't about Islam per se, will detail exactly where and how many border disputes Malaysia has with its neighbors. It turns out that Malaysia has territorial ownership claims against and/or from virtually all of its neighbors.

Students of history are well aware that wars are often caused by border disputes. All it takes is one country that feels it is losing out because a border is not where everyone agrees is should be. Just this past week, Thai and Cambodian military forces were shooting at each other (resulting in injury and death) over a long-simmering border disagreement between those two nations.

Aside from prestige and possible historical ties, the primary reasons Malaysia and others are claiming ownership of various bits of land around Southeast Asia (much of it uninhabited islands) has to do with the ability to control sea lanes, defining maritime economic zones, gaining possible tourist dollars in some instance, and of course oil, rumored to underlie much of the area.

The principal islands involved (and the nations claiming ownership) are:

-- Padra Branca Islands, claimed by Malaysia & Singapore.

-- Sipadam & Ligatan Islands, claimed by Malaysia & Indonesia; this is one that seems most likely to cause trouble in the near term.

-- Louisa Reef, claimed by Malaysia & Brunei.

-- Spratly Islands, claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, & Brunei: China claims them all, but occupies only 8, Vietnam has occupied or marked 25, the Philippines 8, Malaysia 6, and Taiwan one.

-- Paracel Islands, claimed by China, which occupies them, Taiwan, & Vietnam contest Chinese claims.

-- Sabah, claimed by Philippines & Malaysia. This is a province of Malaysia, which the Filipinos claim was ceded to the Sultan of Sulu (now part of the Philippines) back in the 1870s.

All of the nations making these claims understand that it is the U.S. Navy that, for now, still has the final say over who controls what.

But don't expect anyone in Malaysia to mention this, or to talk about border disputes at all, other than to mention that everyone 'knows' that it's the Great Satan that is the cause of all wars and discord in the first place. At least that is what Doctor M and his asinine "Perdana Peace Foundation' keeps claiming.

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