World » Asia
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Indonesia freed of arms sales embargo owing to US-run hypocritical policies

The USA was rather concerned about the observation of human rights in Indonesia, although it now apparently seems OK for Washington

Despite the resistance of the Senate, the US Congress supported by a majority lifting the embargo on arms supplies to Indonesia. Doing this Washington seeks restoring friendly relations between both countries and encourages Jakarta. C-130 Hercules

Spokesman for the US Department of State Sean McCormack commented upon the disputable decision and said that Indonesia is a moderate Islamic country and the White House thinks it is important to keep up friendly relations with “the world's third populous democratic country.”

It needs to be mentioned that in the beginning of the year the US intended to maintain restrictions on USA's financial aid and arms sales to Indonesia. American officials stated that the Indonesian government did not observe human rights and had poor civilian control of the Indonesian military. Washington was indignant at human rights violations by Indonesian military during an operation against separatists in East Timor in 1999 and disliked the poor control over the military in the country.

However, the USA made some concessions to Indonesia in January 2005 and allowed sales of parts for C-130 Hercules military transport planes adopted in Indonesia; the planes were used to eliminate the tsunami aftereffects in Sumatra.

So, the visits of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to Washington to discuss military and technical issues turned out to be rather resulting. The Indonesian president says that recommencement of cooperation with the USA will give a new spur to the two-way relations. The US Administration remembers perfectly well that military cooperation between the countries was really successful under Suharto, and hopes that Indonesia may become a reliable ally in fighting international terrorism. 

Besides, the US hopes to use its authority in Indonesia to consolidate its positions in South-Eastern Asia, maintain the balance of forces in the region and not let China take its position. China by the way also stands a good chance to have the 1989 embargo lifted. In the beginning of the year, the EU already informed the White House of the intention to lift the embargo. Then Condoleezza Rice stated that in case the embargo on arms sales were lifted China would make more arms purchases and thus provoke other countries to follow the example.

The US plays the game of law and pursues its own ends thus winning the sympathy of some countries and making others rather nervous. In the beginning of the year Washington offered the Indian authorities to start joint production of modernized F-16 fighter-bombers and then approved of selling modernized Patriot-3 anti-missile systems to India. When Pakistan voiced its anxiety in connection with the USA's intentions, the USA said that it was seeking “strengthening and expanding” relations with both countries, Pakistan and India.

But still critics doubt that all arms currently allowed for sales to South-Eastern Asia may be used solely for war on terrorism. Besides,  sales of arms and military objects require more control which in its turn poses another problem.

Vladimir Vysokov

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Several years ago, a prominent Indonesian businessman who now resides in Canada, insisted on meeting me in a back room of one of Jakarta's posh restaurants. An avid reader of mine, he 'had something urgent to tell me', after finding out that our paths were going to be crossing in this destroyed and hopelessly polluted Indonesian capital.

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