Subject: NYT & WP: U.S. to Resume Aid to Train Indonesia's Military Forces

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

also: WP: Powell Says U.S. to Resume Training Indonesia's Forces - Terrorism Fears Overtake Concerns About Army Abuses

The New York Times August 3, 2002

U.S. to Resume Aid to Train Indonesia's Military Forces

By TODD S. PURDUM

MANILA, Saturday, Aug. 3 — Secretary of State Colin L. Powell announced on Friday that the Bush administration would resume direct military training aid to Indonesia for the first time in a decade, in a move aimed at bolstering the efforts against terrorism in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Secretary Powell held a daylong series of meetings in Jakarta with President Megawati Sukarnoputri before flying here for consultations with Philippine officials.

He said that $4 million would be provided initially to Indonesia and that in all, the administration expected to spend about $50 million over the next two years for counterterrorism programs. Virtually all of it is already appropriated, with most for civilian and police training.

Still, the announcement was the clearest sign yet of the administration's resolve to restore military cooperation, which was sharply curtailed in the early 1990's and cut off altogether three years ago out of Congressional concern over human rights abuses by Indonesian troops.

Other Southeast Asian nations have complained that Indonesia has not been aggressive enough in rooting out militant groups and have urged the United States to resume aid, though Secretary Powell acknowledged that the move would prompt criticism.

"We are starting down a path to a more normal relationship with respect to military-to-military," Secretary Powell said at a news conference, adding that American training would help Indonesian forces learn respect for human rights and civilian control of the military. "We not there yet, but we're starting."

Here in the Philippines, 1,000 American troops have just completed a six-month training effort aimed at helping the country's military in its fight against the Abu Sayyaf guerrilla group, an Islamic group that turned to kidnappings for ransom. Secretary Powell was to discuss the next round of expected military training with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Before he arrived, knots of protesters, fearful that the United States wants to re-establish a military presence here, scuffled with police near the United States Embassy, leaving at least a dozen people injured.

Secretary Powell said this morning that he would make "no attempt to roll the clock back" to the days before the United States withdrew its bases from the Philippines. He said the next round of military operations here would be smaller than the one just concluded but added, "We will continue to assist them in training, perhaps at company level," though not in active patrols.

Human rights groups promptly criticized the announcement about Indonesia. "Before giving aid, the U.S. should calculate the impact," said Henardi, director of the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association. "No matter how small it is for the military, they could use it to justify past repression."

The initial $4 million is for "counterterrorism fellowships" part of a $17 million fund for such programs in the current Pentagon budget that is just now being allocated worldwide. The administration skirted the Congressional ban that bars contributions to the Indonesian military from the State Department's foreign operations budget by taking the money from a Pentagon account instead.

There is growing support on Capitol Hill for broader aid. Last month the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $400,000 for Indonesian military training for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, lifting a previous provision that had limited such funds to civilian training. Congress is expected to approve that as part of the appropriations process this fall, while keeping in place a ban on arms sales. Indonesian officials have complained that the curbs on American military assistance have hurt their ability to combat terrorism in a nation of 17,000 islands.

State Department officials emphasized that the bulk of the $50 million, about $47 million, would go to train Indonesia's fledgling national police force. The officials said that more direct aid to the Indonesian military would require action by the Indonesian government to hold accountable the officers responsible for violence in East Timor and elsewhere.

The United Nations has estimated that more than 1,000 people died at the hands of pro-Jakarta militias, backed by the Indonesian military, around the 1999 independence vote in East Timor.

The Indonesian Army remains the most powerful national institution as the country weathers the turbulent transition to democracy that began in 1998, and its officers also finance their operations through ownership of businesses, from commercial real estate to a domestic airline.

After a meeting with senior Indonesian military and security officials, Secretary Powell said he had raised some specific cases, though he declined to give details.

Another senior official said, "We made it clear that results on that path were what was going to matter in terms of how far we would be able to move."

But Secretary Powell said that after a somewhat shaky start in the wake of Sept. 11, the administration was "very satisfied and pleased with what Indonesia has been doing," to fight militant groups, though he added, "We think more can be done."

President Megawati's government has moved cautiously against these groups for fear of alienating the country's overwhelmingly Muslim population before elections in 2004. Malaysia and Singapore have accused Indonesia of allowing Abu Bakar Basyir, the leader of a group with links to Al Qaeda, to roam free. The government maintains there is no evidence that he has committed any crime.


Washington Post Saturday, August 3, 2002

Powell Says U.S. to Resume Training Indonesia's Forces

Terrorism Fears Overtake Concerns About Army Abuses

By Karen DeYoung Washington Post Staff Writer

MANILA, Aug. 3 (Saturday) -- Three years after the United States severed all ties with Indonesia's tainted armed forces, the Bush administration will resume U.S. military training there as part of a broad program of counterterrorism assistance totaling at least $50 million over the next two years, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Friday in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital.

In the latest example of shifting U.S. foreign policy priorities since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the administration is renewing the military training despite scant evidence that the Indonesian army has substantively investigated and punished the human rights abuses that led to the cutoff.

Powell said the United States would be watching to make sure promised military reforms move forward. But, he said, the time is right to "start down a road toward greater military-to-military cooperation and more work with [Indonesia's] police forces."

The bulk of the aid will go to counterterrorism training for the Indonesian police. But $4 million, from a newly created Defense Department fund unrestricted by a congressional ban on more traditional training programs, will go to the military. The Senate Appropriations Committee last week voted to lift the training restrictions in next year's budget, although laws barring sales of military equipment to Indonesia are expected to remain.

The administration has made clear in recent months its belief that Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, risks becoming the next haven for international terrorism. This prospect, U.S. officials say, imposes more urgent priorities than the need for the country's fledgling democracy to prove it has taken control of the powerful armed forces.

"Indonesia has that threat [from terrorists], the United States has that threat and we all need to work jointly against these kinds of organizations and these sorts of individuals," Powell said after meeting with officials in Jakarta.

Powell flew Friday night from Jakarta to Manila, the last stop on an eight-day, eight-nation Asian tour designed to bolster counterterrorism cooperation. He was scheduled to depart for Washington this afternoon.

The level of threat by terrorists in the region, and the zeal with which it is being combated, vary widely by country. Singapore and Malaysia received kudos from Powell for their arrests of dozens of individuals with alleged ties to both al Qaeda and radical groups in the region thought to be part of its international network.

The Philippines, which also has made arrests, leads the U.S. list of cooperative nations. On Wednesday, about 1,000 U.S. troops completed a six-month exercise that included counterterrorism training and assistance to Filipino forces pursuing Abu Sayyaf guerrillas in the country's southern jungles.

Powell's stop here was largely a pat on the back for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's government.

But the Bush administration sees the biggest threat -- and the biggest challenge -- in the growth of radical Islamic groups in Indonesia, where they are powerful political forces. While the administration has communicated its concerns largely in private, Indonesia's neighbors -- who have arrested a number of Indonesians for alleged terrorist ties -- have questioned Jakarta's inaction.

Powell chose his words carefully Friday in a news conference with Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda, saying, "We admire Indonesia so much as a Muslim nation, which at the same time has great diversity within that nation, and allows that diversity to flower in a way that benefits the whole society."

Wirajuda said: "The fact is that Indonesia is not Afghanistan and we do not believe that Indonesia will become the future Afghanistan. . . . Indonesian Muslims are very moderate ones."

The Jakarta government sees a larger threat in the communal violence that has plagued Indonesia's sprawling archipelago for decades.

A variety of separatist and independence movements were brutally repressed by the armed forces under the authoritarian Suharto regime, leading the U.S. Congress in 1992 to impose a ban on all military training -- provided through the International Military Education and Training program funded and administered by the State Department. Suharto was toppled in 1998.

What remained of the military relationship, including equipment sales, was ended in 1999, when militias backed by the Indonesian military killed hundreds of people in East Timor after the territory held a referendum and voted for independence.

Congress demanded that all those responsible for the East Timor violence be brought to account before the ties could be reinstated.

Powell said Friday that the new U.S. security program would aid Indonesia's counterterrorism effort and that increased contact with the U.S. military would help its armed forces comply with human rights norms.


Back to 
August
menu
July

Main Postings Menu

Note: For those who would like to fax "the powers that be" - CallCenter is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software application integrated with fax and data communications... and it's free of charge! Download from http://www.v3inc.com/