Indonesia: At War with Planet Earth?? NO!(?)
Some of you may have wondered why Indonesia has a red severity for
Indonesia is in danger of ceasing to exist in any way related to
what it was in June 1997. This has been true since May 1998, when
the Indonesian government lost control of the capital Jakarta for
24+ hours due to rioting. Former President Suharto resigned shortly
afterwards. Itar-Tass reported that the immediate reason given for
the resignation was an apoplectic seizure. [Whatever that means to
Itar-Tass: I have seen translation difficulties into English
before. Itar-Tass has reported large snowstorms affecting Moscow as
hurricanes, several times since 1996.]
The recent developments regarding East Timor have put Indonesia
in danger of waging war with the United Nations. An index to the
highly disrupting UN-mediated agreement is here.
How did we get here?
This summary was written on September 30, 1999.
Habibie [Suharto's official successor] had insufficient
political power to prevent a vote on the secession of East Timor
from Indonesia. This vote was somewhen in early September. The
pro-Indonesian militias went into mass-violence mode within
- Actually, the violence is fairly normal. The American Civil War
[1860-1865] was triggered by a similar vote to secede from the
United States. However, the atrocities (such as physically
verifiable mass graves for massacres, and direct destruction of
infrastructure that the militias need to survive) are not
As best as can be determined by studying MyCNN from the other
side of the Earth, a de facto coup was executed on September 7,
1999. [At any rate, the rumors of the coup started then.] At this
time, General Wiranto successfully removed Habibie from power. This
was confirmed by diplomats in Jakarta on September 9, 1999.
However, part of this coup plan is that the
former government structure stays intact, including Habibie's
position as President. Indonesia is still refusing to formally
acknowledge that the coup is real.
Australia moved next. When the question of a UN intervention
force came up, Australia put 2,000 troops in Darwin on notice that
they had to be able to leave for East Timor in four hours.
Australia's Maritime Union imposed a 100% shutdown of exports
from Australia to East Timor about then: without coordinating with
Australia. It was lifted after five days (and two days of pressure
from the Australian government). Meanwhile, Kofi Annan [of the
United Nations] was crafting "the peace force Indonesia cannot
refuse". The Security Council proved compliant: the East Timor
degeneration was more threatening to Red China than either Taiwan's
insistence on negotiating being annexed by the mainland (thus
ditching the One China doctrine, initially a U.S. invention), or
the U.S. cruise missile perfectly targeting the Chinese Embassy.
The last incident is surveyed at Eastern Orthodoxy, Evangelicals, Charismatics,
etc..(among other places).
Many (if not most) Indonesians refer to the UN peacekeeping
force as an Australian invasion force. This delusion (sorry,
Indonesian readers) does have some basis:
- Australia has mentioned only one emergency evacuation plan for
Australian nationals from Indonesia: military force. This was back
in June or July 1998. Australia has been planning for an Indonesian
invasion of Australia since June 1998. An Indonesian invasion pits
19 million Australians versus the fourth most populous country on
- For example, there are clearly Australian nationals near
"Indonesia's second city", which happens to have Indonesia's World
Trade Center (and the Australian Trade offices). These Australian
offices were vandalized recently [after September 20, 1999] by
Indonesians outraged over the 100% export shutdown the Australian
Maritime Union pulled off.
- Jakarta is not exempt from these emergency evacuation
- The Australian Prime Minister Howard has a serious PR problem:
in a recent poll, 45% of Australians indicated that he was doing
too little about East Timor. 10% indicated he was doing too much.
In contrast, Thailand (and most other countries in ASEAN) are
horrified by the insufficient action he had already authorized
regarding East Timor. Howard is explicitly resisting political
pressure: he wants to keep Australian troops out
of East Timor, rather than the vastly more popular sending them
- The UN forces have been on "shoot to kill" orders since
September 26 or so. They have captured somewhere between 10 and 15
Kopassus agents (the Indonesian version of a cross between
commandos and Nazi SS Gestapo), and at least one platoon leader of
a pro-Indonesian militia.
- October 2, 1999: I forgot to mention that circa September 15,
1999, the Australian National Broadcasting Company set up a network
of radio broadcast stations so that they could cover the entire
nation of Indonesia with news in both English and the main
Indonesian language. This operation is exactly like Voice of
America, which the U.S.A. did to the U.S.S.R. during the Cold
While U.S. President Clinton has adroitly avoided committing
U.S. combat troops to this effort...the U.S. is providing
substantial military intelligence and transportation assistance.
Unfortunately, the U.S. may very well be dragged into this against
Further escalations -- and the final(??) resolution
July 7, 2001
July 6, 2001
- Exxon-Mobil indicated that if improvements in security continue
at the current rate, that it would be possible to reopen the Arun
natural gas plant in Aceh.
June 5, 2001
- Eight UN security experts are scheduled to visit West Timor to
assess whether it is safe for UN humanitarian aid workers to return
there. This is expected to start July 8, and last a week, including
the cities of Kupang and Atambua.
Apr. 23, 2001
- Indonesia's Energy Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro hoped that the
security situation in Aceh would improve enough (later in June) to
permit Exxon-Mobil's Arun Liquefied Natural Gas plant to reopen.
Twenty-four Indonesian soldiers have been assigned to guard the
Apr. 7, 2001
- Exxon-Mobil announced that they were prepared to wait
indefinitely for security considerations to improve before opening
the gas fields in Aceh. One of the main issues was workers being
able to go to and from work unhindered.
Mar. 14, 2001
- Exxon-Mobil reported that about 11:15 PM local time at the Arun
gas field, there was an exchange of gunfire. A fire within cluster
four was discovered shortly thereafter, and was extinguished.
Mar. 12, 2001
- Japan's Tohoku Electric Power Co Inc announced that if the Arun
gas field shutdown continues into June 2001, that alternative
measures for supplying the natural gas imports (510,000
tonnes/year) from Arun would have to be considered.
Mar. 1, 2001
- Indonesia's chief politics and security minister Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono is concerned that Parliament's censure of Wahid, if
pursued, could result in the demise of Indonesia as a nation.
- ExxonMobil has shut down most of its natural gas fields in Arun
due to security threats. The only ones operating are offshore,
north of Sumatra. It is unclear from whom the security threats are
from. This puts at risk 3.4 million tonnes of Liquid Natural Gas
exports to South Korea (out of project demand of 16.2 million
tonnes). South Korea is seeking assistance from long-term
suppliers, Australia, Taiwan, and Japan.
Feb. 28, 2001
- Indonesian Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri toured Borneo
today. The enhanced orders to Kalimantan police have successfully
averted the need to declare a civil emergency.
Feb. 25, 2001
- Kalimantan police have been ordered to shoot armed Dayak mobs
on sight. This order (ten days after the start) appears to have
been successful in suppressing the interethnic violence.
Feb. 12, 2001
- Interethnic violence in Kalimantan (a province of Borneo)
between the local Dayaks and relocated Madurese has claimed between
270 and 400 lives. It is unclear whether Wahid's interest in
purifying his soul via the hajj is creating public relations
problems for him in Indonesia. Police have not been systematically
disarming the Dayak mobs.
Feb. 8, 2001
- A mob of about 5,000 attacked a Golkar political office in
Tuban (east Java). Local police did not admit immediate success in
controlling the mob.
Jan. 29, 2001
- Gene Frieda (4Cast economic consultants in Singapore) commented
that there is a significant risk of Indonesia formally balkanizing.
Currently, Megawati is supporting Wahid politically (against the
Golkar faction in Parliament)
Jan. 20, 2001
- The faction of the Free Papua Movement responsible for the
current hostage incident with South Korean-owned plywood firm PT
Korindo Merauke is down to three hostages now. An alternate demand
(in place of the original?) may be holding discussions with
Jan. 19, 2001
- The faction of the Free Papua Movement responsible for the
current hostage incident with South Korean-owned plywood firm PT
Korindo Merauke does not appear interested in negotiations at all
-- instead, five more were taken hostage. The current ethnicity
count is thirteen Indonesian, and four South Korean. A priest is
assumed to not be a hostage, although he is in the area (250
miles from the city of Merauke).
Jan. 17, 2001
- Military spokesman Air Vice Marshall Graito Usodo indicated
that while hardliners on both sides were still intent on creating
trouble in the Moluccas islands, that it appeared that control
could be maintained with only four battallions of troops and
police, rather than the current seventeen. A gradual withdrawal
(assuming no further complications) is currently planned.
Jan. 16, 2001
- Irian Jayan separatists have taken twelve workers for South
Korean-owned plywood firm PT Korindo Merauke hostage. This appears
to be eleven Indonesians and one South Korean. The focus seems to
be more compensation for logging operations than independence,
however. This has been attributed to a faction of the Free Papua
Movement, led by Willem Konde [alternate spelling: William
- Aceh health minister-in-exile Zaini Abdullah, speaking for the
Free Aceh Movement from Stockholm, indicated that another attempt
to require weapons to be turned in (nominal deadline circa Jan. 30,
2001; mentioned by Mahfud M.D.) was a provocation. There is no
evidence that Indonesia can successfully implement this (cf.
a recent failure [Oct. 2000] in West Timor)...and such a threat may
be required of Mahfud M.D. in order for him to keep his
Jan. 6, 2001
- Indonesia's defence minister Mahfud M.D., one day after a
ceasefire extension took effect in Aceh, indicated that the local
police were capable of handling the situation, and would call in
the military if a military operation should prove necessary
(contrary to expectations).
- The UN and Indonesia continue to have contrary opinion on
whether Indonesia can implement a security guarantee for UN forces
if they return to West Timor. Indonesia claims so, the UN denies
it. There continue to be doubts about whether the Wahid government
actually rules in West Timor.
Dec. 10, 2000
- Separatist violence flared up in Aceh, leaving one policeman,
one Aceh guerilla, and nine civilians dead. The Indonesian attempt
at a cease-fire is due to expire Jan. 15, 2001 unless extended. It
is unclear who was responsible for the nine civilian deaths.
- The Moslem bombers implicated in attacks in both Indonesia
(apparently intended to destabilize the Wahid government) and the
Philippines were trained in Afghanistan. The training time appears
to be late 1980's or early 1990's...according to those caught and
Dec. 8, 2000
- A grenade was thrown from a passing car at the residence of the
Indonesian governor of Aceh. Abdullah Puteh (the governor) and the
national forestry minister escaped injury, and the damage to the
residence was described as minor. Two were injured: a local
official and his driver.
Dec. 7, 2000
- Indonesian lawyers representing five former East Timor-based
Indonesian police, including the former police chief for East
Timor, are trying to block questioning by the Indonesian Attorney
General's office because the results will be handed over to the UN
investigation as well as the Indonesian investigation.
- Indonesian police have launched a manhunt for the coordinators
of the prior day's assault on the police station. While formal
liaison has not been invoked with Papau New Guinea, cooperation so
far has been substantial.
Dec. 5, 2000
- Almost 100 presumed-nationalist Irian Jayans were arrested
after first attacking a police station, then damaging a nearby
market. Two policemen were killed, and one civil servant.
Dec. 3, 2000
- Isolated clashes between Aceh nationalists and the Indonesian
military are not dying down quickly. They started on Dec. 4, 2000
-- the 24th anniversary of Aceh nationalists declaring political
separation from Indonesia, in 1976. It is not clear how many died
on Dec. 4: the reported range is 15 to 17.
October 17, 2000
- Papua New Guinea has augmented border controls with Irian Jaya
following recent violent skirmishes (10 reported killed) between
Indonesian police and Irian Jayan nationalists. This is currently
an effort to deny Irian Jayan nationalists a base of guerilla
warfare operations in Papua New Guinea.
October 8, 2000
- Indonesia has completely abandoned its Oct. 12, 2000 deadline
for disarming the pro-Indonesia militias. This is inauspicious if
the Wahid government actually wants IMF/World Bank aid.
October 4, 2000
- After 30 people were killed in Wamena town (Irian Jaya),
thousands of pro-independence tribesmen retreated to the to jungle.
Indonesian police were authorized to shoot on sight. The excuse for
the riot was the removal by police of a pro-separatist "Morning
October 1, 2000
- Indonesia has arrested pro-Indonesia Timorese militia leader
Eurico Guterres on ill-specified weapons offenses. This is not
expected to have any observable effect on Indonesia's "forcible
September 28, 2000
- The "forcible disarmament" operation was said by Indonesia
police spokesman Brigadier-General Dadang Garnida to have been
extended to Oct. 12, 2000 on Sept. 27, 2000, due to the scale of
the operation. The latest reported tally was: "50 factory-made
guns, 1,300 home-made guns and 4,000 bullets". "Home-made guns" is
problematic: there should be infrastructure to make more of
those. The operation should be extended to suppress that
September 27, 2000
- The deployment of circa 400 police and circa 600 TNI has been
sufficient to clear the armed pro-Indonesia militia from the East
Timor refugee camps. This force is clearly too small to have any
chance of even partial success, regardless of time allowed. I would
be amazed if the Wahid government thinks this has any chance of
satisfying international donors. I must raise the plausibility of
the conspiracy-theorist hypothesis I mentioned on Sept. 10,
September 25, 2000
- Local police and military indicated that the forcible
disarmament of the pro-Indonesia militias would start Sept. 28,
September 24, 2000
- The Jakarta government pledged to forcibly disarm the
pro-Indonesia militia by Sept. 28, 2000. [Or is this a translation
error? -- cf. September 27, 2000]
- In a demonstration of how little disarmament has been going on,
the pro-Indonesia militias staged a riot at the police station in
Atuamba, recovering (almost?) all of the weapons that had been
turned in earlier.
September 22, 2000
- The Jakarta government's attempt to elicit a voluntary
surrender has totally failed. The pro-Indonesia militia are not
turning in anything modern, and have not turned in significant
quantities of even WWII/Korean war era arms. [To wit: 34 automatic
rifles, 9 grenade launchers, and circa 1,000 rounds of
September 20, 2000
- Udayana military commander Major-General Kiki Syahnakri
reported that measures were needed to prevent foreign interference
from provoking Irian Jaya to separating from Indonesia. He
mentioned a "joint exercise by U.S, Singapore and Australian armed
forces near the territory". [Incidentally, his command also
includes West Timor, and included East Timor before the situation
melted down.] However, this commentary was clearly not meant
for international consumption. Neither Australia nor the U.S. have
been involved in any joint exercises with anyone. [No
report from Singapore....] [Perhaps there is some confusion with
- The announced disarming schedule for the militia has been
altered. The initial schedule has been declared to be a
"persuasive" disarmament, followed by a presumably-indefinite
"repressive" disarmament. However, local analysts have confirmed
the international analysts: due to a faulty chain of command, the
military in West Timor is not heeding orders from Jakarta
September 17, 2000
- Indonesia has finally announced a schedule for disarming the
pro-Indonesia militia: Sept. 22-24, 2000. Indonesia refuses to
accept UN verification, raising suspicions about whether this
deadline is empty words or not. Red China appears willing to back
up Indonesia's refusal.
September 12, 2000
- U.S. general Cohen made it very clear that Indonesia must
choose between disarming the pro-Indonesia militia and
international isolation. Cohen also noted that Indonesia's
continuing failure to act on this constitutes deliberate reneging
on a full-security pledge given to the UN for the attacked
September 10, 2000
- The Wahid government continues to implement no visible action
towards disarming/disbanding the pro-Indonesia militia, and is
politically hostile towards any UN intervention to prompt such
visible action. I empathize with Jakarta's nationalism, and wish
they would align their words with their actions.
May 12, 2000
- I have reactivated the Indonesia situation as critical, due to
several evidences that the Indonesian army in West Timor
systematically ignores orders from Jakarta. This means that the
Wahid government effectively does not exist in West Timor,
indicating that Indonesia's de-empirization is potentially imminent
again. An alternative interpretation (not plausible) is that the
Wahid government is systematically misrepresenting its military
orders to the UN. I will not reiterate this conspiracy-theorist
hypothesis in future commentary.
- September 6, 2000: Several thousand pro-Indonesia militia
staged an organized attack on a UN aid compound, killing at least
three UN workers and seriously injuring at least 32.
- September 8, 2000: Wahid made the statement that the situation
in West Timor was back under control. This statement was blatantly
inaccurate: over 800 pro-Indonesia militia staged an attack on the
village of Betun, leaving at least 20 dead. The U.S. military
considered it very obvious that the Indonesian military was backing
these attacks: that is, the Indonesian military in West Timor
directly went counter to orders from Jakarta, so these orders
either were not relayed or were directly disobeyed.
- September 10, 2000: It was noted that the Jakarta government
probably does not have the political will to disarm the
April 17, 2000
"It is finished!?" A general survey of the
news since April 17 indicates that the Wahid government has
successfully navigated the immediate crisis, and that what remains
is mostly "routine" cleanup. While Indonesia will retain its red
code for some time, I cheerfully remove it from my political
- The above was finalized by an Indonesian-Aceh truce that, while
it locks out extremist factions' desires for independence,
legalizes guerillas who wish to abandon their ways.
- While the Suharto corruption probe will continue for some time,
it does not appear to be an index of political instability. Mass
demonstrations on May 11, 2000 were shut down (compared to May 11,
1998 and May 11, 1999) because more effective methods of political
activism are now in place. This is a very significant change,
compared even to the elections for Wahid.
- This is critical for Indonesia's stability -- because it is a
serious convergence towards First World political methods. The
U.S.A. is not a democracy because of its elections (formally, it is
a republic), but because the U.S. government respectfully responds
to its diverse populace. Most First World governments have been
around long enough to develop a similar responsiveness, regardless
of their exact governmental form.
April 13, 2000
- Indonesian prosecutors for the Suharto corruption probe were
prevented from further inquiry today. Court-approved physicians
ruled that it was medically unsafe for Suharto to be
April 12, 2000
- The Wahid government banned Suharto from leaving Jakarta.
Indonesia has indicated that it is looking at a "truth and
reconciliation commission", similar to South Africa's at the end of
April 8, 2000
- A faction of Indonesian Moslems plans to declare jihad in the
Moluccas islands if the inter-religious violence does not stop
before then. This faction believes that they will easily get
through Indonesia's blockade of the islands against them....
April 3, 2000
- Maj. Gen. Kiki Syahnakri, leader of the withdrawal of
Indonesian forces from East Timor, was confident that his forces
did not train the pro-Indonesia militia. This is consistent; those
trainers who have been captured were from Kopassus, not the normal
March 31, 2000
- Suharto answered the third legal summons -- in his home. He was
able to answer simple questions fully, but the doctors (both for
and not-for Suharto) were forced to interrupt the more complicated
questions because of serious blood pressure surges. These answers
(aside from the doctors' interference) were also fairly complete
March 30, 2000
- The Wahid government has pledged to remove the "extremist"(?)
pro-Indonesia militia that are infiltrating from West Timor to East
- The resumption of military ties between the U.S. and Indonesia
is now linked to the enforcement of accountability of Indonesia's
military for the atrocities in East Timor.
March 27, 2000
- Suharto failed to appear for the second legal summons. A retry
for early next week is planned.
March 23, 2000
- Suharto has been formally summoned (again) for questions about
corruption in charities he once controlled.
March 22, 2000
- It seems that whether Suharto is medically fit to be questioned
depends on who is paying the doctors doing the estimation.
March 21, 2000
- There are fears that the deadline of Jan. 1, 2001 for making
various regions more autonomous could backfire due to lack of
preparations. However, the deadline cannot be moved further into
the future for political reasons. There are also fears that the
various regions do not yet politically realize that they will be
responsible for more government spending, as well as more
March 12, 2000
- President Wahid indicated that Indonesia must accept some of
the blame for the situation in Aceh, and considers the rebel
Acehnese political views to be reasonably grounded in past
experience. Wahid also indicated that in case of a negotiated
settlement to the issue, that various guerilla force members would
be accepted into the Indonesian military.
March 3, 2000
- Indonesia is tightening security at the East/West Timor border,
after four pro-Indonesia militia incursions (that involved firing
at UN forces) occurred in 36 hours.
March 1, 2000
- Irian Jaya's governor estimates that keeping Irian Jaya in
Indonesia will be much easier if the standard of living for those
living there is significantly increased. An example is building a
road between the major towns of Jayapura and Wamena: this would be
much easier to accomplish if Jakarta's approval was not required
for every single detail.
February 29, 2000
- General Wiranto, while testifying before legislators about East
Timor, pointed out fourteen unauthorized Australian flights over
East Timor in July and August 1999. He also believed not enough
time was scheduled to let the voters fully understand the
consequences of both options. The scale of the violence was
February 28, 2000
- President Wahid was temporarily pinned down in the governor's
place at Dili (currently the working base for the UN
administration) by an anti-Indonesian protest that Ramos-Horta did
not approve of.
- General Wiranto, when testifying before legislators, reported
that he had to shut down a 1998 coup attempt requested by Lt. Gen.
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono against Suharto. Yudhoyono is currently
the minister of Mines and Energy in Wahid's Cabinet.
February 25, 2000
- Ryaas' plausibility estimate presumably has factored in a
fairly outrageous draft autonomy bill for Aceh that "barely leaves
Aceh in Jakarta's control". It is feared that any revision of the
bill to make it less extreme could create (or reinforce) a
February 23, 2000
- The current plausibility for Indonesia keeping Aceh is 90%,
according to the regional autonomy minister Ryaas Rasyid.
February 22, 2000
- Wahid boosted the alert level for Jakarta security forces to
red alert today, apparently having been informed of a "large
protest" (not the anti-corruption one at the attorney general's
office). He did not provide information about the organizers or
focus. Either said protest was thoroughly deterred pre-emptively,
or it never was planned: it didn't show up.
- The UN Security Council strongly urged Indonesia to proceed
with its national investigation of East Timor, without overt
reservations. There were no references to a UN tribunal (which both
Red China and Russia are thought to unilaterally veto).
February 19, 2000
- Indonesia announced price rises for fuel (maximum 10%) and
electricity (maximum 29%). There is a minimum wage increase
(maximum 59%) planned for next month.
Feburary 18, 2000
- A reunion of families split by the East Timor conflict appeared
to be turning violent -- so the Indonesian military fired about 200
warning shots into the air. By Western standards, this was slightly
excessive. The standards that count are the local ones -- and since
further Western commentary seemed to be pure speculation, I'll
assume Western media does not have access to key details that
February 16, 2000
- Suharto failed to show up for a congressional subpoena hearing.
Some legislators decided that if Suharto could not come to the
hearing, that the hearing would come to him -- but this was
frustrated by considerations of medical care.
February 15, 2000
- Wahid said that the Indonesian East Timor trials would start in
three months (May 2000) -- and that the UN had full rights to start
an international tribunal if these trials are not started by then.
One nameless commentator thinks that Red China (who has unilateral
veto power) would shut down the international tribunal,
- I'm not so confident of this: when a priority clash between
stabilizing East Timor and preparing to invade Taiwan occurred
recently, East Timor took precedence for Red China.
February 14, 2000
- While Wahid (back in January) has expected the problems in Aceh
to be resolved by Mar. 2000, there has been no obvious progress
since. The Acehnese blame this on Indonesia's failure to hold
Indonesian soldiers legally responsible for various atrocities
(similar to those in East Timor). I have no opinion on whether
addressing this would actually improve the situation.
February 9, 2000
- Apparently, the current compromise between Wahid and Wiranto is
that Wiranto keeps his position, but will be suspended during the
February 8, 2000
- Horta indicated that Wahid's guaranteed pardon of Wiranto in
case of conviction was appropriate, since this is a presidential
privilege -- and East Timor wants justice, not revenge.
[Apparently, failure to pardon would exact revenge on top of
- Wiranto has announced that he wants to personally explain his
position to Wahid before stepping down, and that he refuses to
resign before a "fair legal process" has been attempted.
- Wahid (in South Korea to try to revive a national car project
with Kia Motors) said that if Wiranto failed to step down
voluntarily, it would endanger Indonesia's macroeconomic recovery.
[This item is only approximately dated: it's somewhere between Feb.
9 and Feb. 14, inclusive].
February 7, 2000
- Laksamana Sukardi, Indonesia's State Enterprises and Investment
Minister, said that the current conflict between Wahid and Wiranto
is personal, and does not extend to the institutions that they
February 3, 2000
- Wahid has openly mentioned that since the position of Chief of
the Armed Forces deserves respect, that he will pardon General
Wiranto if he is found guilty of East Timor-related charges.
February 2, 2000
- Wiranto's resignation has not been formally received yet.
Wiranto says he needs a direct order from Wahid to resign, and that
going through intermediaries won't work.
- Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said that the
continuing rumors of a (formal) coup in Indonesia are totally
irrational. He cannot imagine how any military officer could
believe a coup would permit an improvement in Indonesia's
- Alexander Downer said that Australia is in favor of Indonesia's
territorial integrity, because Indonesia's breakup would worsen the
security situation in all of Southeast Asia. [Piracy is an obvious
issue: this has already been mentioned, on Nov. 28, 1999, by
January 31, 2000
- Wahid has reconsidered the ideal timing of General Wiranto's
resignation -- and has advanced it to today [Feb. 2, 2000]. Wahid
plans to present this through the Minister of Defence.
- Wahid's overt explanation for this change is to prevent
unnecessary harassment by political opponents.
- General Wiranto stated that he would not step down until
Wahid's demand that he quit was clarified. He then proceeded to
attend a regular Cabinet meeting on schedule. His lawyers will
fight Indonesia's inquiry into the East Timor situation. There are
some questions as to whether the summary forwarded to the
Attorney-General censored out the military's testimony, and if so,
- Amien Rais stated that this was not very rational, and that
Wahid should have consulted with his advisers before changing the
timing. Rais also stated that if Wahid is insufficiently decisive,
Wahid's credibility will be damaged by the required compromise with
the military. On the other hand, if there is actually sufficient
evidence to warrant a trial of General Wiranto, then Wiranto would
be forced to quit and stand trial.
January 30, 2000
- Indonesia's inquiry into the East Timor situation recommended
that 33 people be investigated by Attorney-General Marzuki
Darusman. General Wiranto, and five top Indonesian officers were
named -- as were two leaders of anti-independence militia [Joao da
Silva Tavares and Eurico Guterres] and East Timor's last governor
under Indonesian rule [Abilio Soares]. General Wiranto was named
for failing to take action after he knew about the violence.
- Wahid plans to make a serious effort to block a UN
international tribunal regarding East Timor. This commits Wahid to
pushing through the prosecution of as many of the 33 named persons
as possible -- in hopes of making the UN international tribunal
irrelevant. Wahid planned to ask General Wiranto to resign his
current position as Coordinating Minister for Political and
Security Affairs when he got back (circa February 13, 2000).
- Amien Rais stated that if Aceh becomes independent, Indonesia
will cease to exist.
January 19, 2000
- Army Chief of Staff General Tyasno Sudarto and overall military
chief Admiral Widodo have both personally guaranteed there would
not be a coup during Wahid's overseas trip. Apparently, the rumors
that a coup is imminent are still circulating.
January 17, 2000
- Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab was of the opinion that dialogue
would lead to a reasonable compromise with separatists in Aceh and
elsewhere, citing that Indonesia would not tolerate separatism, but
would consider greater autonomy.
- Dili (in East Timor) had the UN forces break up its third
recent violent incident (involving about 200 people gathering
around a house and stoning it). Thirty weapons were confiscated. An
incident (on Jan. 15, 2000) involving 7,000 "job-seekers" minorly
injured one UN soldier and a Portuguese cameraman.
- Pro-Jakarta militia are apparently trying to retake Oecussi,
forcing an upgrade of the security requirements: all aid workers
and UN liaison officers need armed escorts. At least one
pro-Jakarta militiaman was killed on Jan. 18, 2000 by UN
January 15, 2000
- Wahid openly dismissed rumors that a military coup was
imminent. These rumors were started by an explicit warning by the
U.S. State Department to Indonesia's generals not to conduct one.
It seems there is ample reason to suspect a coup is imminent: both
Wahid's refusal to declare martial law in Aceh, and current human
rights investigations targeting top-level Indonesian generals, are
creating stress between the Wahid government and the Indonesian
- Cf. Dec. 6: in much of Indonesia, the coup has
January 12, 2000
- It is clear that Wahid will use force to prevent Moslems from
answering the call to unholy war (or jihad, depending on one's
political alignment). This isn't really a surprise: the Indonesian
navy was already assigned the task of shutting down combatants
traveling between islands in the Moluccas.
January 9, 2000
- Apparently, Moslem protesters have started calling for a holy
war in Ambon. Among the Moslem clerics/Islamic scholars, there are
two factions. Those agreeing with Wahid state that the protesters
are calling for an unholy war, and that all who answer the call are
sinning. The other faction wants the jihad. [This division applies
to both Ambon and the Moluccas.] The Wahid faction would accept a
jihad against those provoking the violence (probably Moslem!) --
but not against the Christians generally.
January 6, 2000
- Megawati (whom Wahid has delegated the responsibility for
calming down the ethnic violence to) apparently has been
sufficiently inactive that more drastic measures may be required.
Some Moslem clerics i.e. Islamic scholars have declared a jihad
against Ambon already (this contradicts Wahid, who is himself a
Moslem cleric/Islamic scholar). [It depends: is the reporting
agency Reuters or Xinhua?]
- Megawati has a much better track record at inciting violence
than conducting politics. As noted earlier, there is evidence that
her vice-presidency was required to prevent an immediate civil war.
Also, her political skills were proven incompetent in the
campaigning from June 1999 to the elections in October 1999.
December 30, 1999
- It seems that ethnic/religious violence [Moslem vs. Christian]
in the Moluccas islands has the potential to induce an
ethnic/religious civil war in all of Indonesia. 80,000 Moslems
rallied in Jakarta, and gave an ultimatum to Wahid: stop the
violence in one month, or the Moslems will declare jihad in the
Moluccas islands. [I'm not sure whether this is to be interpreted
as February 4, 5, or 6.]
- Indonesia's navy has imposed a blockade around the islands in
an attempt to shut down militia (Moslem or Christian) travel
between the islands. Confiscated weapons include firearms,
ammuniton, swords, knives, spears, and improvised bombs.
December 29, 1999
- Pro-Indonesian militia troops were observed firing close to
civilians near the West/East Timor border by UN-Australian troops,
and attracted warning shots fired into the air. Neither side
crossed the border, and no injuries were reported.
December 22, 1999
- Ramos-Horta has criticized the UN choices of Jordanian, Kenyan,
and Pakistani troops in the next stage of the UN forces. While the
former head of Indonesia's Kopassus forces, Prabowo Subianto,
taking asylum in Jordan is interesting...I can
think of much worse choices of troops. Thai troops, for
- Ambon has regressed to (mostly) civil emergency -- the one
thing lacking being the authorization of the military to impose a
December 21, 1999
- Wahid has declared that Indonesia will not recognize any
international tribunal to try Indonesian generals for war crimes.
If this stance continues, Indonesia may approach Serbia in
December 6, 1999
- The UN investigation panel into human rights violations in East
Timor has recommended to the UN Security Council that a war crimes
tribunal be held. This is conditional on Indonesia failing to
properly investigate its own generals within the next few months.
Both the UN investigation panel, and the (Indonesian) Commission
for the Investigation of Human Rights Abuses in East Timor,
recommend the immediate disbanding of the pro-Indonesian
- This last recommendation shouldn't happen: the authority to
disband the militias is with the military coup government, not the
- Admiral Widodo (current TNI armed forces chief) thinks there is
substantial foreign interest in investing in Indonesia
(particularly chemistry-based investing) -- but the current threat
of Indonesia politically disintegrating under attacks by civilian
militias on the government is preventing this investment from being
made. He cites Aceh as an example.
December 3, 1999
- Juwono Sudarsono, the first civilian defense minister in nearly
50 years, does not want to prosecute Indonesian generals for
atrocities committed by their troops. He also warned that while
democracy exists at the national level, thousands of villages are
under martial law already (the highest authority is an Indonesian
NCO) -- and if democracy does not take hold within months, all of
Indonesia could fall under martial law within months.
- Members of the (Indonesian) National Commission on Human Rights
disagreed with Juwono; Asmara Nababan pointed out that the Cabinet
would make the decision to prosecute, not Juwono.
- The (Indonesian) Commission for the Investigation of Human
Rights Abuses in East Timor plans to summon the following
- Wiranto (military commander and defence minister)
- Adam Damiri (in charge of Indonesian troops before
- Zacky Anwar (former head of intelligence, part of a government
body supervising the referendum)
- Sjafrie Syamsuddin (military commander of Jakarta in May 1998,
during the riots that toppled the Suharto government; seen at the
Dili residence of Bishop Carlos Belo the day it was burned down
(Sept. 6, 1999)
- Pro-Indonesian militias have been directly observed lying to
East Timor refugees about the cost of medical care (it is free, but
the militias claim the refugees must pay). Unfortunately, this
clearly defines their spiritual alignment.
December 2, 1999
- Indonesia has obstructed the UN human rights investigation by
denying visas to West Timor for the delegation until Dec. 2, 1999.
Indonesia has also obstructed the gathering of evidence against
Indonesian generals (including Wiranto).
- Ramos-Horta [one of the East Timor independence activists]
believes that a war crimes tribunal is completely avoidable, and
can be headed off by dealing with the offending generals under
- The pro-Indonesian militias and the Indonesian police are not
controlled by the Wahid government at all in West Timor: they are
directly opposing the implementation of the border accord that is
to return East Timor refugees to East Timor from West Timor.
November 30, 1999
- Aceh's local Indonesian military commander Syarifudin Tippe has
stated (to Reuters) that since the Wahid government has explicitly
refused to impose martial law in Aceh, that most of Aceh is
controlled by the Free Aceh rebel movement. That is, Tippe has
grounds to believe that Aceh has already
- Great Britain has declared that it will pull out its Gurkha
contingent from the UN East Timor force by Christmas. About
one-third of this is expected to be pulled out by Dec. 9,
November 28, 1999
- The governor of Moluccas has requested a downgrade of Ambon's
crisis status from martial law to a state of civil emergency. This
was prompted by agreement between the military and the civilians
that the military has not been able to prevent its soldiers from
favoring Moslems in the clashes.
- Ambon is subject to violent clashes fairly frequently. However,
the downgrade request is interesting -- especially since it is the
same kind of religious discrimination as was applied in East Timor
[85% Roman Catholic].
November 26, 1999
- Indonesia's Minister for Maritime Exploration, Sarwono
Kusumaatmadja, has observed that an (Aceh-induced) breakup of
Indonesia will cause the waters currently policed by Indonesia to
become a haven for piracy.
- This is a huge security risk for the entire region: several key
sea trade routes would become highly dangerous to use.
- Indonesia's instability has already been responsible for a rise
in attempted (successful or not) pirate raids from 143 in
Jan.-Sept. 1998 to 180 in Jan.-Sept. 1999. Of those in Jan.-Sept.
1999, more than 1/3 [that is, more than 60] took place in
- Sarwono explicitly rejects the view (popular among legislators
and government ministers) that Indonesia's breakup is being
engineered by foreign powers -- because no nation would clearly
benefit, economically or ideologically, from the breakup.
- Sarwono does not agree with the 50% estimate of Aceh breaking
away, as quoted earlier this month. He believes the chances are
much lower, because Aceh does not have international support --
unlike East Timor.
November 18, 1999
- Coordinating welfare minister Hamzah Haz has resigned. This is
reasonable, since he is high on Wahid's public list of officials to
be investigated for corruption. Hamzah Haz was also a successful
minister under Habibie.
- Wahid has indicated that the Aceh referendum will be over the
introduction of Islamic sharia law, not
independence. This makes December 4, 1999 an interesting date to
November 16, 1999
- Thousands of ethnic Javanese [the majority ethnic group in
Indonesia, overall] have fled Aceh in the past two days.
- The Javanese were moved in to relieve population pressure on
Java. This technique is historically very common when trying to
solidify an empire; cf. the Babylonian and Roman empires.
- The official count of those who fled is 5,000. The reduction in
population is undoubtedly much higher, since several Javanese
enclaves have been cleared by Free Aceh rebels in the past few
- The Free Aceh rebels are rumored to have plans to initiate
attacks on and/or around December 4, 1999, if President Wahid does
not allow a referendum on independence. [December 4 is the founding
day of the Free Aceh organization....]
- The Indonesian military has stated that declaring martial law
in Aceh may be appropriate.
November 12, 1999
- Wahid is offering a vote (probably on enhanced autonomy, not
independence) to Aceh in about seven months.
- The military will not tolerate an independence vote because
that confirms the Balkanization process started in East Timor.
- Amien Rais will tolerate an autonomy vote, but not now....
- Wahid also wishes to push improved trade relations with Israel
(but not actual diplomatic relations). Amien Rais thinks that this
proposal itself requires full-blown crisis management, and should
not be active while the Aceh situation needs action.
November 9, 1999
- Amien Rais has publicly estimated that if Aceh leaves
Indonesia, that Indonesia "without doubt" will break up. Wahid is
currently in the U.S. for medical treatment (didn't Suharto vacate
office over a much more minor illness??)
November 8, 1999
- The Indonesian military has given its PR statement: secession
from Indonesia is unconstitutional (and presumably will be
resisted), even with approval from the People's Consultative
Assembly. This implies that the Indonesian military is still
planning how to recapture East Timor....
November 4, 1999
- Aceh was estimated today, by Indonesia's regional autonomy
minister Ryaas Rasyid, as having a 50% chance (plausibility) of
breaking away from Indonesia. I will assume that it is very
unlikely that one of Aceh and Irian Jaya will break away, but not
both. [Perhaps Aceh is testing the weakness of the Wahid Indonesian
government for Irian Jaya?] Referring back to October 27, 1999:
this translates into a 50% chance of Indonesia ceasing to be
economically viable. A very bad situation for Indonesia, including
Aceh and Irian Jaya.
November 3, 1999
- Cosgrove believes that the pro-Indonesian militia are still a
threat, but that the Indonesian military is giving less assistance.
In fact, he has reports that the Indonesian military are trying to
prevent the militia from interfering with the resettlement of
displaced East Timorese in East Timor. He continues to be
frustrated at Indonesia's failure to cooperate with creating a
proper border protocol.
- The UN has asked Indonesia to restrain the pro-Indonesian
militia from such interference. [Of course, the militia are under
the control of General Wiranto, not President Wahid -- but as
observed above, General Wiranto apparently is at least partially
cooperating with the UN.]
November 1, 1999
- Cosgrove has announced that about 10% of the population of East
Timor is unaccounted for -- 80,000 to 130,000. 720,000 are
accounted for. Most of this could be a counting problem.
- It appears that the number of East Timorese murdered by
pro-Indonesian militias is in the hundreds, rather than the
- The most unstable number is the count of how many are in
refugee camps in West Timor. No census has been taken, and the
original Indonesian-government figure of 260,000 has already been
revised downward to 225,000.
- I have finally gotten confirmation that General Wiranto's media
description (on October 13, 1999) was indeed accurate. I find the
delay highly annoying. [It suggests Western media censorship. This
affects the analysis of the surprise information regarding the
disapproval of the East Timor vote by Indonesia's People's
Consultative Assembly, on October 20, 1999.] Unfortunately, I do
not have opportunity to directly apologize to General Wiranto.
- However, it seems that the procedural steps required to prevent
future incidents have not been taken to Cosgrove's
October 27-29, 1999
- Ramos-Horta has stated his opinions about the continued
leadership of the UN force. Namely:
- Malaysia is too closely aligned with Indonesia to be
acceptable: massive civil disobedience could break out.
- Australia is doing a good job (indicating that his biases will
be diametrically opposite to Indonesia's. Australia's leadership is
antagonizing Indonesia and angering Malaysia. Why is Malaysia
responding more strongly than Indonesia?).
- It is probably safe to say that anything Ramos-Horta likes, the
Wahid government and Malaysia will hate.
- South Korea would be acceptable in the later stages (UN
- Ramos-Horta was not recorded as commenting on Thailand (whom
Wiranto would like). Note that I do not have an Indonesian source
that wants Malaysia; Malaysia is merely volunteering without
visible coordination with Indonesia.
October 27, 1999
- General Wiranto has stated that he would like Thailand to lead
the UN force. I do not know why this story (initially on October
27, 1999) was worth repeating three days in a row. Considering
other news stories that I have not directly commented on...I think
there is strong evidence that Thailand would let the Indonesian
military recapture East Timor with virtually no resistance.
October 23, 1999
- Wahid has constructed his cabinet by now. General Wiranto has
been given what has been called a fairly minor position.
- The Wahid government is apparently desperate to try to hold
Indonesia together. They are verbally willing to try to appease
Aceh and Irian Jaya by granting greater autonomy (but not
independence -- political poison in Jakarta).
- I'd have to do some historical research...but I think this is
an ineffective technique. Historically, separatist provinces try to
separate when the empire-government is weak.
- It is possible that Indonesia is not economically viable if too
many provinces (such as both Aceh and Irian Jaya) are removed. At
least, this has been mentioned as a possibility.
- One local commentator has analogized Indonesia's treatment of
Aceh to Milosevic's treatment of Kosovo. If this analogy is
correct, drastic action is required to prevent de-facto
October 21, 1999
- The UN force is making progress on capturing the pro-Indonesian
militia enclave of Oecussi in East Timor.
- The pro-Indonesian militia is directly defying the People's
Consultative Assembly declaration made on Octorer 20, 1999. This is
further confirmation that they are not subject to the overt
government in Jakarta [Wahid/Megawati].
October 20, 1999
- Megawati Sukarnoputri was elected vice president of Indonesia.
While this option heads off the risk of 'instant civil war', it
does nothing about merging the General Wiranto "stealth coup"
government with the overt Indonesian government.
October 18 or 19, 1999
- Indonesia formally gave up its claim to East Timor today.
However, the decision read: "The People's Consultative Assembly
respects the results of the ballot in East Timor without setting
aside the fact that the...agreement (to hold the ballot) was done
by the government without permission from the House of
- This had not made it to me before. I have no idea whether this
is a revisionist description, the point had never come up in the
news before, or whether the Western media suppressed this fact
since August 1999. All three options I named are plausible...and
have very different implications. Any readers who have a better
perspective on this (credibility clearly enhanced by being in
Indonesia, Malaysia, or Singapore: my problem is being halfway
across the Earth), please email me with your informed commentary
- 'Lack of permission from the House of Representatives' is a
procedural block that could have been used to prevent the East
Timor elections regarding secession. Under most plausible
scenarios, Habibie was even weaker than he appeared (from where I
am) in August 1999.
- Election day! Due to the brilliant tactics by the phantom
Golkar candidate, a very close vote between Megawati and Wahid
ensued. Wahid barely pulled out ahead. Unfortunately, both
candidates have deficiencies that could derail the Presidency:
- Wahid is not exactly in good health. He is partly blind,
dealing with the effects of a stroke, and requires assistance to
sign documents. There is some question whether Wahid, or Wahid's
handlers, will be the de facto president. Recall that Suharto
resigned because of much less severe symptoms of this kind.
- Megawati, on the other hand, has a serious tact deficiency.
This first appeared in June 1999. There is also some question
whether the faction of her supporters that plans to wage a violent
revolution (due to the loss of the election!) is, or is not, large
enough to be a serious national security threat....
- The vice-president has yet to be chosen. Openly discussed
choices include the chairman of the Golkar party, Akbar Tandjung;
General Wiranto; and Megawati. herself.
October 17, 1999
- The Golkar party removed Habibie as their presidential
candidate. With less than 48 hours before the election, they tried
to field another presidential candidate (whose name I did not
immediately record). This candidate made a smart tactical move:
after realizing that in a three-way race Megawati was the clear
winner, he refused to run and told his supporters to back the third
October 14, 1999
- Whatever the points in Habibie's speech were, they were not the
right ones. Habibie is in imminent danger of losing the Golkar
candidacy for President, with only one minority party in Parliament
willing to accept the candidacy. [The story is unclear about
whether Habibie's position itself is in imminent danger.]
- "Only Allah knows" sounds unacceptable, to the world system, as
part of an apology for permitting a political disaster (such as
- The anti-Suharto crowd has a grudge against him for being
hand-picked by Suharto. [This crowd should also consider measures
against General Wiranto, who is effectively implementing Suharto's
intended policies regarding East Timor....]
- The pro-Suharto crowd was angered by Habibie's inability to
keep East Timor. This is also one of the Golkar party's problems
- Suharto-neutrals are not vocal, and are probably a remarkably
small minority. At least, as far as can be determined, from
half-way across the Earth, by dangerously incomplete media
October 13, 1999
- The Indonesian police proved unable to suppress a violent
protest outside of Parliament preceding and during Habibie's speech
to Parliament. The most effective protest control tactic reported
was ensuring that Habibie's speech could be clearly heard by the
protesters. (I do not have the background to recognize the
important points in Habibie's speech, so I won't give details
October 11, 1999
- What General Wiranto is telling the media (that the above
policy has ceased) apparently is not the orders reaching the
Indonesian military and militia in West Timor. Given the generally
high level of cooperation between the Indonesian military, police,
and (pro-Indonesian) militia, I would not bet on the veracity of
General Wiranto's media line.
- General Wiranto still has not accepted the position of Vice
President in Habibie's political campaign -- nor has he rejected
October 9, 1999
- The Indonesian army and militia have initiated a policy of
starting clashes very close to the East Timor/West Timor border, in
an effort to ensure that Indonesian casualties occur in West
October 8, 1999
- The New Zealand contingent of the UN forces have seized control
of the airport near Suai.
October 7, 1999
- For the moment, 70% of East Timor is under UN control as of
this date. Gun battles are expected to escalate as the UN forces
actually take out pro-Indonesian militia i.e. Indonesian military
- There is a question as to whether Red Chinese SKS rifles in use
by the Indonesian militia/military are recently supplied, or have
just been un-mothballed. In the absence of clear documentation, I
am leaning towards the latter.
October 6, 1999
- The Habibie government has vehemently asserted that West Timor
will not be a base of military operations against the UN force in
East Timor. Unfortunately, the Habibie government doesn't have a
military. The Wiranto government has (or is) the Indonesian
military -- and has given no sign it is interested in a
- The Indonesian military command that used to be at Dili in East
Timor is being relocated to West Flores near West Timor.
October 4, 1999
- The town of Suai [spelling as rendered by Reuters], in
southwestern East Timor [near the border with West Timor] is
apparently important enough for the pro-Indonesian militia i.e.
Indonesian army to defend. At any rate, both UN forces and the
militia are taking casualties in clashes around there.
October 2, 1999
- The Habibie government [the Wiranto government doesn't have the
correct agencies to do this, yet] is openly supporting importers
that are trying to find nonAustralian suppliers.
- The Indonesian People's Consultative Assembly has elected Amien
Rais of the National Mandate Party as its speaker. Rais is a leader
of a bloc of small parties called the Axis Front that could
determine the outcome of the presidential race to be held in less
than three weeks. This has been taken as a sign that proposed
constitutional reforms are likely to make the position of speaker
actually have political power [in contrast to the past few decades
under Suharto and Sukarno].
October 1, 1999
- The British Gurkha delegation of the UN forces "crashed the
party" on an Indonesian militia mass murder operation of 2,000 East
Timorese. Of the twelve submachine-gun toting militiamen, three
were captured. The Gurkhas fired some warning shots.
September 30, 1999
- If Indonesia's metaphor of a "ladder of tensions" (with
Australia/Indonesia being currently at the topmost step) is easy to
interpret: Indonesia is preparing to at least directly assault the
UN force with the Indonesian military, if not invade
- The Australian commander of the UN forces has indicated that
while his mandate is restricted to East Timor, the UN forces have
been ordered to cross into Indonesia in hot pursuit. This was not
taken kindly by either Indonesia or Malaysia.
Opinions, comments, criticism, etc.? Let me know about it.
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