meanwhile in Indonesia

Ian Murray seamus2001 at
Tue Oct 2 14:33:57 PDT 2001

< > Megawati challenge: Restoring security

President Megawati Soekarnoputri should explain to the public her government's stance on terrorism to erase the misperception that she is a puppet for the American government, analysts said on Monday.

Bantarto Bandoro from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said that, explaining her commitment to joining global efforts to combat terrorism would be a delicate matter for Megawati.

Bantarto said Megawati's major challenge at home was dealing with the anti-American movement, warning that if she could not resolve the issue well she could be accused of turning her back on Muslims.

"Megawati should stop any violent action against foreigners, but she should use a suitable approach in dealing with anti-U.S. groups," Bantarto said.

"If Megawati were able to resolve the security problem at home, she would be able to maintain good relations with the U.S. as a result of her successful visit," he added.

Bantarto said that if Megawati failed to improve security, such as appeasing hostility toward the U.S., including threats to force American citizens out of the country, this would jeopardize her commitment to combat terrorism.

"The United States may review its commitment (to Indonesia) if Megawati does not restore security, particularly security for American people here," said Bantarto.

Separately, Juwono Sudarsono, an international relations analyst, said the governments of Indonesia and other Islamic countries would face difficulties at home if the U.S. went ahead with its plan to attack Afghanistan.

"Countries like Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia would be in a difficult position in their efforts to calm down hard-line groups if the U.S. really attacks Afghanistan," Juwono, a lecturer at the University of Indonesia, told The Jakarta Post.

He said those governments would not readily support a U.S. attack on Afghanistan as they would meet strong opposition from hard-line groups.

"If the governments insist on supporting the strike, they would risk being branded as U.S. puppets," said Juwono, who is also a former minister of defense.

President Megawati, he said, has taken an independent stance in connection with Indonesia's commitment to fight terrorism and has not promised any specific support to the U.S. plan.

According to Juwono, the commitment to fighting terrorism had been expressed by President Megawati during her trip to member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in August.

In a joint statement between Megawati and President George W. Bush on Sept. 19, it was clearly stated that any efforts to fight terrorists should consider "the feelings" of Islamic countries, Juwono said.

"The problem is that there is not enough information for the public about the joint statement. There is a misperception among the people. They believe that the U.S. commitment to providing aid is a reward to Indonesia because of Megawati's support," Juwono said.

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