Indonesian military suspends “cooperation” with Australia


Indonesian military suspends “cooperation” with Australia

James Cogan

6 January 2017

A representative of Indonesia’s armed forces, the TNI, confirmed on Tuesday that overall commander General Gatot Nurmantyo had ordered the “suspension” of all cooperation with the Australian Defence Forces (ADF). A flurry of diplomatic activity has resulted in statements of “clarification” from the Indonesian government, to the effect that only minor cooperation will be temporarily affected.

The incident nevertheless sheds light on the deep concerns in the highest echelons of the Indonesian military over the prospect of the country becoming embroiled in, and destabilised by, a confrontation with China by the US and its key allies such as Australia.

The rift was triggered by complaints in November by an Indonesian military language instructor who was on exchange in Perth to teach Indonesian to Australian special forces.

The complaints include:

  •  A paper authored by an Australian officer in which the Indonesian province of West Papua was referred to as part of Melanesia and should be given independence.
  •  References by Australian personnel to the 1999 independence of East Timor from Indonesia, which was overseen by an Australian-led United Nations force.
  •  An incident in which former TNI general Sarwo Edhie Wibowo was referred to as a “mass murderer” for his central role in the US and Australian-backed 1965–66 Indonesian coup, during which at least 500,000 alleged Communist Party members and supporters were massacred. In 1989, just prior to his death, Sarwo Edhie asserted that the actual number of victims was closer to three million. His daughter is married to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesia’s president from 2004 until 2014.
  •  A laminated sheet on which…

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