Subject: JP: Indonesia Blasts U.S. Over Military Relations

Also: Indonesia to look for new arms suppliers

[ETAN note: Indonesia appears to be ignoring the central conditions on resuming full military ties, which this year at least are not focused on the Timika killings. Congress has reiterated conditions that have been in place, with minor variations, since 1999 - credible prosecution or cooperation with international efforts to prosecute serious human rights violations and civilian control of the military. See: http://www.etan.org/news/2005/11conf.htm]

The Jakarta Post Monday, November 7, 2005

Indonesia Blasts U.S. Over Military Relations

Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post/Jakarta

The Indonesian government has criticized United States lawmakers for stalling efforts to restore full military ties between the two countries, calling the move a groundless ploy.

"I see there is no legal basis to accuse Indonesia of not doing anything to meet all requirements for the restoration of military cooperation," Minister of Defense Juwono Sudarsono said on Sunday.

He was commenting on restrictions maintained by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on foreign military finance, and on exports of lethal military equipment to Indonesia. The move comes as U.S. President George W. Bush seeks approval from the U.S. Congress for US$20.9 billion in foreign aid that includes military funding for several countries in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, including Indonesia.

The U.S. lawmakers said Indonesia had not done enough to bring to justice perpetrators of an ambush in Timika, Papua, in 2002, which killed two American teachers and an Indonesian citizen working for U.S.-owned mining giant PT Freeport Indonesia.

"At the initiative of TNI chief (Gen. Endriartono Sutarto), we provided FBI access to the investigation and they concluded later that the TNI was clean," Juwono said.

The U.S. implicated a rebel leader Antonius Wamang in the attack.

*Free Papuan Movement (OPM) has waged a low-level armed struggle for independence against the central government.

"As of today, the police, with the assistance of the military, continue to hunt down the suspect, who can easily traverse the border between Papua province and neighboring Papua New Guinea," Juwono said.

Indonesia has been desperately seeking alternative arms suppliers after Washington imposed a military embargo on Jakarta in 1999, due to atrocities in East Timor that were linked to the TNI.

The TNI, however, has been the world's largest beneficiary of millions of dollars' worth of unrestricted counter-terrorism training under the Pentagon's Regional Defense Counterterrorism Fellowship Program. In 2004, Indonesia participated in Extended IMET programs worth $599,000. In 2005 alone, Indonesia was expected to participate in more than 132 events under the U.S. Pacific Command Theater Security Cooperation Program.

The U.S. lawmakers are also requiring that the U.S. State Department certify that Indonesia is cooperating in the war on terror in order to receive the aid disbursement.

Juwono assured that Indonesia was committed to the crackdown on terrorist networks and had never taken advantage of the issue for political, religious or ideological interests.

"We have always supported the fight against terrorism by our own initiative. Of course, any arrest of terrorist suspects should be made based on our legal system," Juwono told The Jakarta Post.

He said Indonesia had received assistance from foreign countries to fight terrorism, including electronic interception and financial detection devices for Bank Indonesia, the Ministry of Finance and the Customs and Excise office.

Rights activist Ifdhal Kasim from the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam) said the problems with the Papua incident did not lie in the incapability of the country's law enforcers, but "political interests that require the case to remain undisclosed."

"If a certain institution is believed to have been involved in the incident, then we must admit it and bring the perpetrators to justice. The government must realize that upholding the law is a key instrument to start military reform," Ifdhal told the Post.

He said that Juwono had to speed up military reform because "the problems of reviving military ties with the U.S. will stand still unless we can show some real progress."

SIDEBAR: The ups-and-downs of military ties between Indonesia and the U.S.

1993 Washington imposes partial military embargo against Indonesia, following the St. Cruz massacre in East Timor.

1999 The U.S. imposes a full embargo against Indonesia, banning the export of military equipment to Jakarta and training of its military

2003 In the wake of the global war on terror, the U.S. revives in stages military ties with Indonesia by reopening training and courses for Indonesian officers.

2004 Washington eases the embargo after the Dec. 26 tsunami. The Policy allows Indonesia to purchase non-lethal military equipment. [ETAN note: Indonesia had been allowed to buy so-called non-lethal military equipment for several years before 2004.]

The Jakarta Post

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Indonesia to look for new arms suppliers

Rendi A. Witular, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Indonesian government will have to look for alternative arms suppliers with the U.S. appearing likely to extend its military embargo against the country, according to a senior minister.

"We have many strategic alternatives ... for developing our military strength. We will not be depending solely on the U.S.," Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo Adi Sucipto said following a Cabinet meeting on Monday.

He was commenting on reports that U.S. lawmakers recently renewed their campaign to convince the administration to extend a 13-year military embargo imposed on Indonesia. The U.S. lawmakers claim the Indonesian government has not done enough to bring to justice the perpetrators of a 2002 ambush in Papua that killed two American citizens and one Indonesian citizen. The lawmakers have also required that the U.S. State Department must first certify that Indonesia is being cooperative in the global fight against terrorism before full military ties can be resumed.

"We need to face this reality by preparing other alternatives," Widodo said.

Indonesia's military equipment has been steadily deteriorating as a result of the arms embargo by the U.S., which was imposed following the gross human rights violations in the former province of East Timor.

But a dispute earlier this year between Indonesia and Malaysia over territory and resources made some quarters see the urgency of modernizing the country's military equipment.

Government officials and Indonesian Military (TNI) officers have done some "window-shopping" in several countries, including China, India, South Korea and a number of eastern Europe countries. Indonesia has also purchased jet fighters and helicopters from Russia.

The TNI is unlikely to purchase new arms for another two years because of the government's current financial difficulties, but it could start expanding its equipment purchases in 2007 if the country's economy continues to strengthen.

Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest economy, needs a strong military force not only to address threats at home, such as separatist movements, but also as a deterrent against neighboring countries, most of which have updated their military capacity.

Widodo, however, said military cooperation with the U.S. had already been revived in certain areas, pointing out the U.S. assistance for training TNI personnel and the resumption of spare parts supplies for Hercules aircraft.

"As an example, the U.S. recently disbursed some US$1 million worth of assistance for a joint training program between the navies of the two countries," Widodo said.

Widodo added that the failure to revive full military ties with the U.S. was not due to the government's weak diplomatic efforts, as suggested by some critics.

"The extension of the embargo is not due to any failure on the part of our diplomacy. The U.S. must have its own considerations (for maintaining the embargo)."

 

 


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