|Subject: IPS: Critics on warpath against US
military aid to Jakarta
Asia Tines June 25, 2002
Critics on warpath against US military aid to Jakarta
By Tim Shorrock (Inter Press Service)
WASHINGTON - As US officials lobby Congress to approve a US$16 million package of military aid for Indonesia, they are stressing the need to support political stability in the world's largest Muslim nation while downplaying Jakarta's role in the global war against terrorism.
"Whether democracy succeeds or fails in Indonesia won't be a function of our reaction to the events of September 11," Matthew Daley, the deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said in a recent speech. "In dealing with Indonesia on counter-terrorism, if the focus is September 11, you're missing 90 percent of the story."
The George W Bush administration is seeking $8 million to train the Indonesian police in internal counter-terrorism tactics and another $8 million for a "peacekeeping headquarters" for the Indonesian military, known as TNI.
Jakarta "has to confront the threat of sectarian violence", Daley said. "We want to provide unequivocal support for the territorial integrity of Indonesia," he said at a forum on Indonesia sponsored by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and the US-Indonesia Society.
The change in rhetoric represents a shift from the Bush administration's initial response to September 11, when it pressed Jakarta and other allies to join the war against the al-Qaeda network responsible for the hijack attacks on New York City and Washington.
Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri was the first leader of a Muslim country to visit President Bush after the attacks and the two leaders used their meeting to restart high-level contacts between the Pentagon and the TNI. Bush also lifted a US ban on the sale of non-lethal commercial arms to Jakarta.
In the weeks after September 11, US officials warned that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network had infiltrated Indonesia, posing serious danger. "I think they are more dangerous to Indonesia than they are to the United States," Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense who once served as the US ambassador in Jakarta, told an Indonesian magazine last November.
US military aid and training for Indonesia was suspended in September 1999 in the aftermath of the rampage in East Timor by militia forces backed by the TNI. Later that year, Congress adopted the Leahy amendment linking the resumption of military aid to the prosecution of military personnel involved in the atrocities.
Since Megawati's visit to Washington, US-Indonesian military ties have grown closer. In April, US and Indonesian officials held talks on security issues, followed in May by a visit to Jakarta by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who said that a quick resumption of military ties between Washington and Jakarta would bolster the war against terrorism.
"I think it is unfortunate that the United States does not today have military-to-military relationships with Indonesia," he told reporters.
But many in Congress continue to believe that Indonesia has not fulfilled its promises to reform the military. And on the issue of East Timor, the State Department itself is unsatisfied with Indonesia's attempt to prosecute generals responsible for the 1999 violence. "I cannot tell you that we're encouraged by the progress to date," said Daley.
One factor in the US decision to stress Indonesian issues over global terrorism is the potential backlash from Indonesian Muslims toward US policy in the Middle East, particularly Washington's "uncompromising support for Israel", said Meidyatama Suryodiningrat, the managing editor of the Jakarta Post.
"The perception remains that Muslims are being victimized" by US policy, Suryodiningrat said. He noted that radical Islamic parties will contend for power in the 2004 national elections in Indonesia. If the economic situation doesn't improve, more young Indonesians could be "attracted to radical ideologies", he said. "There is a potential for radical Islamic movements to become popular."
Suryodiningrat said a resumption of US military ties could lead to reforms within the TNI. "But if it's focused narrowly on terrorism, it will do more harm than good," he said.
The aid the Bush administration is seeking will better prepare the TNI to deal with domestic disturbances and civil unrest, argued Daley. "We're trying to expand the margins of what we can do with the TNI." The United States should be "realistic" and recognize that Indonesia must resort to using its military rather than police to deal with internal problems - a situation "not unfamiliar" to US leaders, he said.
The $16 million would allow Indonesian forces to be "trained in ways to deal with problems without recourse to discriminate violence in units under command and control", he added.
"If approved by Congress, the money won't go to tactical units themselves to buy bayonets, stun guns, electronic prods and that kind of thing, but for command and control, mobilization and training. This doesn't amount by any stretch of the imagination to a broad resumption of a long-term military relationship. That requires more progress" in military reform, Daley said.
But Sidney Jones, the Jakarta representative of the International Crisis Group, said it is far too early to resume direct military aid to the TNI. The $16 million package requested by the Bush administration "sends a very wrong signal about the Indonesian TNI involvement with internal security", she said. The Leahy amendment, Jones said, "is our only source of pressure on the Indonesian government".
A recent International Crisis Group paper on Indonesia states: "Better military training will not alter the fact that there is a fundamental lack of political will on the part of Indonesian national civilian and military authorities to exert control over private armies, punish abusive soldiers, end military corruption or proceed with long-promised reforms."
(Inter Press Service)
White House Seeks to Resume Aiding Indonesia's Army
By RAYMOND BONNER and JANE PERLEZ
JAKARTA, Indonesia, June 28 â€” The United States is pressing hard to resume assistance to the Indonesian military in an effort to re-establish American influence here in the world's most populous Muslim nation after nearly a decade of keeping its distance from the Indonesian Army because of its human rights abuses.
The arrest here this month of a suspected operative of Al Qaeda strengthened the Bush administration's determination to re-engage with Indonesia's army, despite its lack of reform. The administration is using the arrest to support its argument that Indonesia, a reluctant partner in the crackdown on terrorism, should be rewarded for its support with military aid.
The suspect, Omar al-Faruq, was turned over to the United States and is being held at an undisclosed location. He is a Kuwaiti in his mid-30's who trained at Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, American officials said. While living here, he raised money for an Islamic charity, some of which was funneled to Al Qaeda, one official said.
In 1993 the Clinton administration, concerned about human rights violations, cut off American weapons sales to Indonesia. In 1999, after widespread accusations of involvement by the Indonesian military in violence against civilians during East Timor's struggle for independence, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, amended foreign aid legislation to impose tougher restrictions on military aid.
But now the Bush administration is pushing Congress to provide financing for a new "command and control" unit for the Indonesian Army. It is intended, administration officials said, for peacekeeping tasks in places like the Maluku islands, where there have been recent accusations that the military is engaged in rights abuses.
Congressional opposition to the plan has weakened, and a senior administration official said money for nonlethal equipment like radios and computers was likely to be approved in the coming weeks.
The administration and Senator Leahy, who has been the main Congressional opponent to restoring aid to the Indonesian Army, are close to an agreement that would allow some Indonesian officers to receive noncombatant training in the United States, administration officials said.
Also, they said Congress was likely to approve funds for the creation of an antiterror unit in the Indonesian police force.
The army remains the most powerful national institution in Indonesia as the country weathers a turbulent transition to democracy. Though slightly diminished from its former stature, the military has succeeded in fending off efforts to make it accountable for human rights abuses.
It has also ben criticized for operating a vast business empire , which includes airlines, hotels, banks and insurance companies, as well as prostitution and illegal logging in tropical forests, Western military officials say.
Accusations that the military engages in rights abuses have continued. In a sectarian conflict between Muslims and Christians in the Maluku islands, the military turned a blind eye to a rampaging Islamic militia, Laskar Jihad, earlier this year, and in the last several years some military officers have been involved in training the group, Western military officials said.
In the province of Aceh, the military was encouraged last week by its new commander, Gen. Endriartono Sutarto, to "crush" separatist rebels. The army has been accused by human rights groups of being involved in widespread killings of civilians in the province.
Although a few officers accused of killing civilians in East Timor in 1999 are now on trial, the most senior generals are not in court, and the military has withheld its full cooperation.
An influential Indonesian intellectual, Jusuf Wanandi, who is close to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, said he had warned the Bush administration not to rush into restoring military assistance and thus give the military its "credibility back." Human rights abuses are as "bad now as they have ever been," and any new assistance should be tied to specific reforms, Mr. Wanandi said in an interview.
The American ambassador, Ralph L. Boyce, expressed some reservations. He said in an interview that until the army showed some accountability for past human rights abuses, military aid should be limited.
"We very much want to have a normal military-to-military relationship," he said, "but we need something serious on the accountability front to indicate that the Indonesian military really is on the road to reform."
General Endriartono, the new armed forces chief, did tell his commanders in his maiden speech that they must "always respect the principles of democracy" and human rights "in our thoughts, our attitudes and our actions."
American officials here said it was the first time they had heard a senior Indonesian military commander speak so directly about human rights. But the Americans said that he was more a realist than a reformer and that fundamental change was unlikely.
The Indonesian military is covetous of its sovereignty and its senior officers resent the United States telling them what to do, said Lt. Gen. Agus Widjojo, the military's senior member of the 500-seat lower house of Parliament, in which the military is guaranteed 38 seats. The United States, he said in an interview, needs Indonesia more than Indonesia needs the United States.
In any case, he added, the Indonesian Army wants weapons and combat equipment, not training in human rights.
The Indonesian military's special role began with its birth as a guerrilla army in the 1940's to fight against Dutch colonial rule. After independence in 1945, its role was enshrined in the policy known as "dual function." The army would not only defend the country, but also play an active role in running it.
Although that was abandoned as official policy after the long-ruling military dictator Suharto was ousted in 1998, the armed forces contend that they remain the guarantors of stability and unity in this country, which is spread out over thousands of miles and islands. Civilian control of the military remains an elusive goal. The defense minister is a civilian, but the armed forces commander is still a member of the cabinet.
The prospects for civilian control in the foreseeable future are "zero," a Western military attachÃ© said.
Indonesian military officers are businessmen â€” big businessmen â€” through hundreds of yayasans, or foundations, originally set up to provide for the soldiers' welfare: scholarships, health care and widow's benefits. But they have broadened into holdings across the business spectrum.
The army special forces, Kopasses, for example, owns a shopping mall near its headquarters, and the reserve, Kostrad, owns Mandala Airline, a domestic airline with a poor safety record.
Military officials contend that the business operations are conducted, at least in part, out of necessity. Only 35 percent of the military's budget comes from the government, and the rest from the business ventures. Local commanders use the money to buy food and shelter for their troops, as well as to enrich themselves.
"The problem isn't that they are in business," said a Western military attachÃ©. "The problem is they want to be filthy rich, like the rest of the elites in this country."
A general whose base pay is six million rupiah a month â€” roughly $700 â€” can easily multiply that fifteenfold from business operations.
The military businesses are largely free from public scrutiny.
In one of the few exceptions, two years ago, as head of the army, General Endriartono, asked for an external audit of its largest foundation, Yayasan Kartika Eka Paksi.
The foundation's net worth of roughly $50 million ranks it with the largest companies in Indonesia, larger than British American Tobacco and nearly five times the size of Proctor & Gamble Indonesia, according to the audit, a copy of which was provided to The New York Times.
The foundation has 11 subsidiaries and 22 affiliated companies. Those include logging and plywood operations, a major bank, a pharmaceutical company, and a tiny airline, which flies from Jakarta to Sulawesi.
But as for the traditional military role of defense against aggression from outside forces, the Indonesian military is largely focused on enemies within.
"The Indonesian military is more concerned about internal stability than external threats," said General Widjojo, the member of Parliament.
That has given rise to the human rights abuses against civilian populations, which continue, Western military officials say, in Aceh, the Maluku islands and Irian Jaya.
A Western military attachÃ© here said he favored sending some Indonesian military officers to the United States for training but at the same time said he did not want to see the Leahy restrictions repealed. "They are going to learn nothing if we don't force them to hold the line on human rights tribunals," he said.
photo: A parade on March 6 featuring soldiers in camoflage celebrated the 41st anniversary of the Indonesian Army reserve, known as Kostrad.
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