Singapore's cooperation with the trilateral security dialogue partners in the war against global terrorism

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The 'new' terrorism has not escaped Southeast Asia. Within this region, the Malay Archipelago has the world's largest Muslim population and Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country. In the context of the struggle between radical Islam, and the West and its allies, the region assumes great, long-term strategic significance, particularly to the USA. The threat of terrorism to Australia, as demonstrated by the terrorist attacks at Bali in 2002 aimed at its citizens, has also ensured Australia's active interest and engagement with the littoral states of the Malay Archipelago. In addition, arguably the world's most strategic waterway and chokepoint, the narrow Straits of Malacca, is located within this cauldron. More than half the world's trade and oil passes through this strategic straits. By comparison, oil flows through the straits are three times more than through the Suez, and fifteen times greater than the Panama Canal. Not surprisingly, key Western states and their allies that have a deep interest in the security of the Straits of Malacca and in the global war on terrorism have paid special attention to the Malay Archipelago. Indeed, the idea of a Trilateral Security Dialogue centred on the USA, Japan and Australia was first mooted in 2001, and has since involved discussions on Asian security between senior officials of all three countries. In 2005, it was elevated to the level of the foreign ministers of Japan and Australia, and the US Secretary of State. This dialogue process is the third leg in the triangle between the two bilateral US alliances with Japan and Australia. It is obvious that all three are key strategic partners in Asia, with a strong common interest in maritime security and terrorism issues, particularly in Southeast Asia. It is the contention of this paper that this evolving trilateral extra-regional security nexus has benefited greatly from cooperation with Singapore, which has been doing everything it can to encourage and facilitate the regional involvement of these extra-regional powers. In fact, Singapore has become a critical regional ally of all three. On Singapore's part, this represents a striking success in foreign policy as security, political and economic allies enhance its own ability to better manage the new terrorist threats that have emerged since 9-11.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-207
Number of pages15
JournalDefence Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • singapore
  • alliances
  • trilateral security dialogue
  • war against global terrorism
  • counter terrorism


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