Joint patrols, part 432

A look at the status of a much-anticipated initiative between Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Trilateral Patrols in the Sulu Sea: Still Coming Soon?

By Prashanth Parameswaran

Last year, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines reached an agreement on limited coordinated trilateral patrols following a meeting in Bali. Though the three sides have since made more progress than skeptics had initially predicted, we have still yet to witness the official launching of these patrols, with reports that they will now occur sometime in the next few weeks.

The strategic significance of these trilateral patrols, if realized and sustained, is clear. As I have pointed out before, the Sulu Sea – or, more specifically, the one million square kilometer tri-border area in the Sulu-Sulawesi Seas between the southern Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia – has long been a hub for transnational organized crime and terrorist threats (See: “Confronting Threats in the Sulu-Sulawesi Seas: Opportunities and Challenges”). Greater coordination between the three Southeast Asian states to resolve these nettlesome problems offers hope for their mitigation.

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