Indonesia: Show Me The Money, Not The Jihad

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August 30, 2007: The major Islamic organizations are turning from politics and religious issues, to economic ones. The Islamic radicals have been pushed to the fringes of Indonesian politics, and everyone has become more aware of how much people are concerned with poverty and education. To the dismay of Islamic radicals, this is an old tradition in Indonesia, where Islam is not taken as seriously as in the Middle East.

August 24, 2007: The government is going to buy another six Russian Su-27/30 jet fighters. Four, bought earlier, have already arrived. The air force plans to buy as many as sixteen, to replace elderly U.S. F-16s that don't fly much anymore because spare parts are in short supply. Western arms supplies have been largely cut off because of disagreements over Indonesias human rights record. So the government is going to Russia and China for weapons. Sensing a major loss, Germany has allowed its warship construction firms to offer refurbishment for three German made subs in Indonesian service. Otherwise, the Indonesians would be tempted to buy Russian made boats.

August 23, 2007: Police and peacekeepers have been unable to halt the gang violence in East Timor. Although the gangs are armed mainly with machetes, knives and steel darts, they are able to extort money from citizens, and make a living. Such a good living, that the gangs are fighting larger and larger battles to decide who controls some neighborhoods in the capital or refugee camps. This months, over 200 buildings have been burned down, and over fifty people injured, before police or peacekeepers arrive to stop the violence. The high unemployment makes the gangs an attractive employment option. The government is attempting to negotiate the surrender of rebel army officer Major Alfredo Reinado, but this will not end the gang violence. Reinado represents the tensions between East Timoreans from eastern and western sections of the country, not the angry, unemployed young men in the capital.

 

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